Tuesday, December 08, 2009

am i being the opposite of a scrooge?

I started to write a post the other day about "how many gifts does your kid get?" Then I decided not to write it, but now I have to. HAVE. TO. Really, my post was not only how many gifts, but what comes from Santa, what comes from mom and dad, and on, and on...

Here's the skinny. I just read this post and the comments (oh, the comments) over on Ohdeedoh. Because S can't read, I feel safe disclosing her Christmas gifts here. She's getting a digital camera (for toddlers), a Melissa and Doug Ice Cream set, some new toy food for her kitchen, magnetic letters, a puzzle, seven books, and some art supplies and jewelry and princess mess for her stocking. That seems like a ton when you list it all out, but it's a remarkably small pile. Of course, she's planning to tell Santa Claus that she wants either a baby doll or a Snow White snow globe, so depending on which of those she actually says when we take her to see Santa, we'll get one of those things, too. I don't feel like I'm buying so much stuff that I'm spoiling her. I really don't.

But then...then I read those comments on Ohdeedoh. The comments that indicated that most of those people limit their kids to four gifts based on some little rhyme about "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read." Four gifts? Really? Was I that spoiled as a child? Am I that spoiled now? Or are these people totally on their high horse trying to make me feel bad about myself and my (apparently) shameless embracing of commercialism? Please. I've bought more than four gifts for my husband.

So, here's the million dollar question: what's the routine at your house?

And let me say this. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. I think it's perfectly acceptable to handle Christmas however it works within your family. It's just that I'm curious...and I'm feeling like a greedy jerk right about now.


Lesley said...

We set a dollar amount. So it could end up being lots of little things or one big thing. Works pretty well most of the time.

Just Another Idealist said...

I just looked at the comments on that other blog, and I think they are RIDICULOUS. Four gifts? Come on. You description seems right on to me, but yeah, maybe I was spoiled, too. Whatever man, I never did get that Barbie dreamhouse.
I don't think it matters how many gifts you put under the tree nearly as much as the thought that goes into the gifts. Plus, it's such a totally great excuse to get them stuff they need anyway--like clothes or art supplies. I think I'm getting my teen a Wii because it's really the only game system that I think might encourage more family interaction, rather than less. Add to that a bunch of clothes, some movies, and money to take his girlfriend to dinner for their birthdays.
I'm NOT buying him a car. So I think that means he's not spoiled, right?

feather nester said...

Hmmm. So many things to say on this that I think I'll probably forget some before I can type them all out.

1. The economy is hitting some people harder than others. These people may not have been so frugal a couple of years ago.

2. How many gifts are these people's kids getting from the rest of their family? We were VERY limited in what we gave our Papoose for her birthday because we knew she'd be getting plenty from the rest of the family. Christmas.

3. How many kids do these people have? There's a big difference between buying three gifts for an only child and three gifts each for four kids.

4. We don't get our Papoose all that much during the year. I tend to save things up for holiday gift-giving. She's getting a kitchen that her daddy built, a barn (instead of a dollhouse), and a doll bed. Honestly, I see these as gifts for me more than her! But they're things we would have given her anyway; Christmas is just the excuse.

5. The husband and i may not give each other anything; I have no clue yet and am not really concerned about it. Christmas is for kids. They're the reason it's fun. As long as you're not spending outside the limits of what's appropriate for your family, who cares what other people are doing. As long as your child knows (at an age-appropriate time) how lucky she is and has no sense of entitlement, you're system is a good one.

Wonderland said...

My family also had a spending limit like Lesley's. My parents would decide how much they could spend that year (one year it was $25 and we all got new winter boots from K-mart, twenty years later it was $1000, so who knows?!), then they would divide it evenly amoung the kids. One year my sister really wanted a vidoe game system, so she literally had ONE present under the tree. I wanted fiction books, so I had like twenty presents to open. But stuff like that happens. We also had TONS of presents under our tree from family members which we weren't allowed to open till x-mas morning. So it made x-mas look a lot fuller. A small pile of "santa" presents gets augmented quickly. (BTW - Feather, John and I have a $25 spending limit on each other this year, I think it's important to at least acknowledge each other somehow. Maybe something small for that special man of yours?) LOVE!

Leslie said...

When I was a kid, Christmas was a big deal - not for religious reasons at all, but for the gifts. My mom LOVES giving presents and bought them all year long. And we got. A lot. BUT! We weren't spoiled, I don't think. Christmas and birthdays were the only times we got anything as gifts, so they were REALLY special, but I don't think that if I'd gotten 1/2 the gifts that I would have been unhappy. It's just what you're used to. Now we set a modest dollar amount in my immediate family. And I think that the man and I are just going to a schmancy dinner.
Do what works for you - that's what'll make you all happy :)

Melissa said...

As kids, Marc and I received tons of gifts from Santa Claus, but like others, we did not get very many things throughout the year. Christmas was the big day to stock up... on everything from toys to clothes....even (to our embarrassment)underwear! So, I do the same for my kids. Christmas is, after all, about them. I LOVE to play Santa's elf and surprise them!!! My husband and I exchange small gifts, and are very budget conscious for the rest of the family. The magic lasts for such a short amount of time. I want to make it as special for them as my parents did for us! That being said, they are each receiving around 25 things, including the stocking stuffers, some of which cost $1.00 or less, like candy. The largest gift for each is a sleeping bag from ll bean (which is AWESOME, by the way) at $60. Do I go overboard? Absolutely! But it's so much fun!!!!

VA said...

Christmas in my household was a two day event. We'd do Christmas Eve at church then come home and open within-the-nuclear-family presents. On Christmas morning we always have one Santa gift, our stockings and when we were littler, extended family presents.

My mom always likes everyone to have a present to open at the same time. So it tends to be 7 wrapped gifts under the tree per person. Because of this there is a set amount of money to be spent per person by the parents so one of the presents usually has a check hidden in it with to-the-penny-equality of gift giving.

I think in the end the nice thing about Christmas is the tradition. It's a reminder that throughout the years you are still family no matter how far you are cast apart or how different your life paths take you. Traditions are the gift for me now. (Course, I do appreciate the other material things too. The gift of time though being unwrapped when all of us are under the same roof again.) So enjoy how YOU celebrate!

Strongmama said...

I think every family is different and you're not a greedy jerk at all. J is getting a bike this year. Originally it was supposed to be from us, but now he has informed us that Santa is going to bring him one. So now he's getting some books from us, and maybe a couple of small toys, but the rest will be from family. My issue every year for his b-day and xmas is the list. I make a list for J of things I would like him to have and only a few people follow said list. Now that's fine in my book if people choose to make him super awesome Elvis guitar capes instead, or when they use really good judgment in their gift choices. Buying my kid an excess of warm, fuzzy pajamas when he wears them 2% of the time in Texas bugs me more than the amount he gets. The gifts should fit the child; not the gift giver.

I find J does really well with a few gifts at a time. The past few christmases and birthdays, he gets way too much and doesn't appreciate everything as much as he should. We often stretch the gift opening to more than one day or at least more than one sitting to accommodate for the fact that he is just ripping paper after awhile.

I do remember getting a ton for Christmas, but I think that's because our birthdays were so close and people often combined gifts. I kind of wish J's birthday was a bit later on in the year so that he didn't get two large stashes so close to one another, but what can you do.

In the end, I'm sure that S will enjoy everything about Christmas and not just the gifts you give. It's fun to give gifts, but all of the other things that make the holiday special will be just as much fun. I'm sure of that one.