We sat and watched with delight as our nephew tore into gift after gift. His eyes dancing with joy as he ripped into the first few. However, toward the middle and increasingly towards the end of these gifts, one melted into the other and it became very apparent that at the end of it all he would not even remember what he got at the beginning. By the end of this frantic activity he stood up with his hand on his hips and said, “Is that all there is?”
At that moment Jim and I decided that Christmas was not going to be all about the presents. Furthermore we tried to make every gift be appreciated and the giver thanked. With the smells and sounds of Christmas comes the gifts but as parents we have a responsibility to decide how much of the consumer age we want our families to partake in. You need to make this decision with your partner so that you are both in agreement. The expectations of what you are going to spend needs to be made very clear. Set the boundaries in place and stick to them.
Children do not need every item that is advertised on television. “Stuff” will not make your child a better person. Gift giving is not evil but what children really need to learn is to appreciate what they receive and the joy of giving themselves. Don’t feel guilted into supplying your child with everything they want. You do not want to foster greed but you do want to encourage appreciation.