I will stress no more

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I mentioned a while back about a post that is running around in my head about Christmas and gifts. I, like every other American this time of year, have been stressed about what to give, how to pay for gifts, how to get it all done before the Big Day. It seems like my kids Wish Lists get longer and the items on it more expensive every year and since we don’t typically buy them a lot of toys throughout the year, I want to spoil them at Christmastime. I stress about how to pay for the things they want because I don’t want them to be disappointed come Christmas morning, and in years past we have gone into debt to satisfy everyone’s (not just the kids’) material wants. This year however, I have decided I. AM. DONE. I’m over it – I’m done with overspending and throwing money at something useless just for the sake of having something to unwrap.  

I want my kids to appreciate the joy of simple things, and I think they do, when they are presented with the opportunity. Last Spring the hubs had a load of dirt delivered for a project he was working on. Within 30 minutes of delivery, that load of dirt was covered with every kid on our street. They played until dark and then came back the next day and the next day and the next day for more. They had a ball with DIRT. Same goes for the big screen TV box my parents had at their house – my kids played with that box for 2 whole days – it was a ship, it was a rocket, it was a car, it was a house…they were enthralled with cardboard and it’s endless possibilities.

During this time of year, I feel pressured (by myself mostly) to get my kids the latest and greatest toys and games and movies. My son’s Christmas list finally ended at 42 items, most of which cost $50 or more. I have agonized over how I am going to pay for the things he wants – he really really REALLY wants a Nintendo Wii, and I can’t blame him – I want one too (Wii Fit calls to me), but the fact of the matter is, we cannot afford to spend $300 on one single gift. My 8 year old wants a Nintendo DS – she’s not getting that either for the same reason. I finally took a deep breath and decided not to stress about what I couldn’t give them and focus instead on the kinds of gifts that would mean something to them. I’m getting each of them a Bible – a real leather bound Bible (well, the 3 year old isn’t getting a leather bound Bible, but she’s getting a Preschooler’s Bible). I’m also getting them a kids’ cookbook – they love to help me cook in the kitchen, and small book lights because they love to read in bed (they are definitely MY children). I am getting them a few toys and DVDs, but I’m not spending my whole paycheck on toys that in 6 months will be at the bottom of the toy box.

Honestly this post is just a way for me to work out this issue in my head. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to scale back – on the spending, the stress, the stuff. I want this Christmas season to mean something to my kids; I want them to have memories, not things. I think what my kids (and all kids really) want most is my time and attention, which is good because at least I know I can afford to give them that!

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10 thoughts on “I will stress no more

  1. Good for you, Jill. I remember making a Christmas list that was really long too, but I don’t remember ever thinking that I would really get everything on the list? Of course, that was a long long long time ago–haha!

    Since I decided not to do much present buying at all this year, I keep wondering when I would have fit in the time to shop and wrap. Life moves by so very quickly.

    I hope you will not give in to the pressure, and you will have a peaceful and joyful Christmas.

    I got new Bibles for Christmas too, since my dog has eaten 4 of mine. Who is more to blame, the dog, or the idiot who left the 4th Bible within reach of the dog???

    Oh, you have a 3 year old! I think that is one of my favorite ages!

  2. Agree 100%. Last year I went totally nuts and each kid got, I think, like 20 or 25 presents to unwrap. Most weren’t expensive–I was going for quantity over quality. And you know what? They were not impressed. They got half way through and didn’t even want to unwrap anything else. So this year is going to be much smaller, and even if the economy wasn’t the way it is I would still scale back. And I’m guessing they won’t even notice there aren’t dozens (or even 1 dozen) of presents to open.

  3. This post brought tears to my eyes, because the shoe fits all too well. The reason my kids are over indulged at Christmas is totally because of me and Hubs. We have also decided to be more *reasonable* this year with gifts. I guess its about freaking time! 😉

    I think you are right-on 🙂

  4. this has been our first year where the temptation was really there to jump!in!full!tilt! as our daughter is 3 and now KINDA gets it.

    but we decided not to (it is far easier with hanukkah as well I think).

    that said it is easy to be ‘strong’ when there is no peer group getting showered with presents.
    my point? I have none 🙂
    just thinking aloud after your post.

  5. I agree with you and the commenters above. The saddest Christmas I ever witnessed was the year I spent with friends where the kids HAD TO BE CAJOLED into opening the rest of their gifts!!! There were so many presents that the opening process took hours! (My first and last Christmas there.) It was pathetic and left me with a really sour feeling. Remember, this holiday is about the birth of our Savior! If three gifts were good enough for the baby Jesus, it should be good enough for us (or some other small reasonable number). Stick to your guns.

    I must close by quoting Public Enemy: Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe the hype.

  6. I realize it’s too late for this year, but something a friend did has always left an imprint in my mind. She gave each kid 3 gifts, because that’s how many gifts the Wise Men brought. It makes it a lot easier! Anyway, maybe next year…..

  7. Melanie – that’s actually what we usually do, sort of. They get 3 gifts from mom & dad, and 3 gifts from Santa. With everything they get from the grandma’s and aunts, they are never lacking for gifts to open!

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