Do you spoil your kids at Christmas? I might as well go ahead and tell you that we do. Or at least I think we do. We don’t bankrupt ourselves, but we spend enough to feel a bit of a squeeze. The thing is we’re both employed, we’re not in much debt otherwise (basically just what’s owing this month on the one credit card we use, our mortgage, and our car payments, all of which is manageable), and we don’t buy them anything at any other time of the year. Except for birthdays (obviously) and necessities (like when they spontaneously grow 2 inches over night and not a single pair of pants fit, which totally happens at least 3 or 4 times a year). They don’t get toys unless it comes in a Happy Meal, although we’ve cut that nonsense (the meals, not the restaurant – we found that Avery doesn’t eat enough to justify buying her her own meal and they only really want the toy that’s offered about 10% of the time), even if they beg. We tell them to put it on their Christmas (or birthday) list. Christmas (and birthdays – can I stop saying that now? you get the point) is the only time they get things that they want and not just simply need. So we buy them lots of things. We spend lots of money and buy all kinds of stuff that they don’t really need and will probably grow bored with in a day or two or they’ll lose in the trash heap they call their playroom, which is filled with discarded junk from years gone by, and we like it. I like it.
I love shopping for kids. I love toy shopping and tiny clothes shopping and book shopping and thinking of things they may have forgotten to ask for and hunting down the impossible things that they did ask for and all of it. There’s also nothing I love more than watching them open what we’ve got for them, or what Santa has brought, so I buy them a lot so I can see them open a lot. It’s selfish of me, really. I apologize, kids, for buying you many presents so that I can bask in your greedy joy.
I’m almost done shopping for them, but I haven’t started anyone else. I like being done before December because my anxiety, like many other people’s anxiety, doesn’t mix well with Christmas shopping mall crowds, so I try to fit it all in in November. And with at least 10 more people to buy for, that means I’m probably significantly behind schedule. I keep trying to shop for other people, but the toy section has a very loud and inviting battle cry that I am mysteriously drawn to.
We don’t have any decorations up yet because my birthday is at the end of the month (feel free to shower me with gifts) and I kind of like my birthday to be more than just a part of Christmas, but if it wasn’t in November, than I’d probably have them up right after Halloween. I don’t understand ba humbuggers. Well, some people have reasons to associate it with bad feelings, and I understand them not being totally fired up about all the constant reminders. But everyone else? Why you no like joy? Maybe it’s just that I’m awfully grumpy the rest of the year and blinky lights and pretty bows and fat old men dressed ridiculously and wicked awesome toys and people making an effort to spend time with one another just cheers me up, but I love Christmas. To me, it’s only about being happy and doing things that will make others happy. And for my kids, who are just beginning to learn about generousity and charity (each of their classes sponsors a family and I make a point of making a big deal about it), Christmas is still mainly about Getting Stuff. That’s what makes them happy right now, so that’s what I do.
Do you go overboard at this time of the year? Or are you able to keep your wits about you?
ASIDE: Please, please, please don’t get me wrong. I am sensitive to the fact that there are many parents out there, many many parents, who will be unable to give even one thing to their children and my even talking about spoiling my kids with mounds of toys is probably in very poor taste. While I shop for my kids, I also buy for the less fortunate than us, organize a yearly food and toy drive at work, and give as generously as I am able to the sponsored families. Not that I need to explain myself, but I felt defensive for a minute.