Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quick, hide the credit cards!

My best friend and I started talking about Christmas yesterday. (Get her going and the girl will happily chat Christmas for days on end. She is beyond obsessed. She even has Christmas movie marathons in the summer. It's actually quite charming!)
I had actually been thinking about it over the weekend. How usually I have a good jump on Christmas shopping by now and how we usually overspend on Logan.
Well, the toy catalogs have started to arrive and the TV is overrun with commericals. The stores are starting to really advertise the hot items and I am starting to make lists of gifts. Logan has been watching home movies of himself on Christmas morning the last couple years, too.
But then I realized... I am pretty sure my son is expecting a thousand presents and he's not going to get them! We've had a lot of unexpected expenditures this year, and we also have another child now. Not only that, we've begun going to church regularly (after saying "we should..." for years, we finally actually do it).
So, I'm faced with a dilemma of sorts. I want to take the emphasis off presents. We messed up and spoiled Logan the past few years and now it's time to kind of nip that in the bud, and I don't think it's going to be easy.

I'm curious, dear readers. How much do you get your kids for Christmas? Will any of you admit to overspending/overgifting? How much do they get from you and how much from Santa? Do you keep track of how much you spend? Are you willing to share how much that is? How many people do you have to buy gifts for overall? How much does Christmas shopping set you back? Leave comments and let me know!

Anyway, I'm going to share the column I wrote over the weekend for yesterday's paper. Here it is:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I’m starting to get a little anxious about it.
You see, Logan has a bad case of the “gimme gimmes.” The main symptom is a constant, uncontrollable Tourette Syndrome-like flow of “I WANT THAT!” coming out of his mouth.
Seriously. He wants everything.
You know how commercials make everything look like so much fun for kids. It can be the dumbest hunk of junk toy, but the kids in the commercial look like they’re about to spontaneously combust from the excitement of playing with it.
So really, who can blame a kid for wanting what he sees on TV. (No, but we can blame the parents--Hello, ME!--for having the TV on in the first place!)
We’ve also begun to receive catalogs in the mail, like the big one from Toys R Us. Logan immediately grabs any catalog that comes in the mail and starts cutting out things he wants. There are bits of paper fluttering all over our house and I send a shipment of them to the junk mail recycling bag a couple times a week.
Pardon me if I’m making my son sound spoiled, but he kind of is, and it’s our fault completely.
For the past few years, Christmas has been obscene in our house. It usually starts back in October or so, when I start dabbling in my holiday shopping, just picking up a thing or two here and there so we’re not paying for everything all in one month.
The secret hiding spot starts to get a little crowded as Thanksgiving rolls around, and as December dawns, I gleefully announce that, aside from a couple stocking stuffers, I’m pretty much done with my Christmas shopping. Then I pat myself on the back and work on getting those cards out.
Then I find something that Logan would just love, and I buy it, telling myself I could always hold something else I purchased until his birthday (at the end of April, mind you.) Of course, I never do.
And throughout the month of December, I find myself picking up little gizmos and gadgets until the stash gets pretty difficult to hide.
Guilty, I do inventory one night after Logan goes to bed and line everything up on the floor. Then, because I have that “holy cow, look how much stuff this is” feeling in the pit of my stomach, I call Hubby in to do an assessment.
Generally, Hubby just looks it all over and doesn’t say much. It’s not until Christmas morning that I discover just how much shopping he, too, has done in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
So after such an outpouring of gifts, it’s definitely not Logan’s fault that he expects to get a lot for Christmas. But the thing is, we definitely don’t NEED any more toys and frankly, we don’t have a heck of a lot of space for more stuff. We haven’t gotten rid of any of Logan’s old toys because we were saving them in case we had another boy, and we did. Now Jordan plays with them all.
So, this year I am feeling some anxiety. Will Hubby and I be able to tone it down like we should? Will Logan still be satisfied with what he gets, even if it’s half as much as he did in previous years? I’m hoping so. It’s really quite necessary, I think. We need to stop the “stuff” madness before it’s too late.
Everyone always talks about the real meaning of Christmas and how it’s not about the gifts, and that is true. But then everywhere you turn, you’re reminded that for a lot of people, whether they will admit it or not, Christmas is very much about the gifts.
So, this year, I’m hoping we can turn things around. Sure, there will still be gifts, but I’d like there to be something else, too.
I’ve made a good start so far. It’s nearly mid-November and I haven’t purchased a single gift yet. I’ve begun telling Logan that he will get something but he won’t get everything he wants.
As for me, what I really want this year is just a simple Christmas at home with my family, attending church with them either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, enjoying Jordan’s first Christmas morning, some cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a few presents and a lot of smiles.
Are you listening, Santa?


MarciaG said...

Great post!
I can say that we started out NOT overdoing it for Amara with gifts from the beginning. More of an issue that we couldn't even if we wanted to! She seems ok for the most part with it. In the back of our minds we knew that she had TONS of other gifts coming from grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends. Last Christmas Amara received more gifts from family then we gave her. I felt guilty for a while..seeing her more excited to open those gifts then the ones from us, but hey--she was happy right?!?!
My SIL even made a snide comment about it being Jesus's bday and not Amara's! I got over that quickly.....her DD at the time was much younger and I am sure that will be evident this X-mas!
I think you are right to start now in trying to limit things..before he gets too old! He will be FINE! Perhaps emphasize giving as well...dropping a toy off at a few of the Angel Trees etc. We do that to try to bring the point home!
Good luck!!

Gwenn said...

We have never really spent a lot on the kids because we have been college students the entire time they have been alive. And with each subsequent kid the amount usually got split between them, and now we have 4 so that amounts to about $50-$60 per kid...and that's still stretching it for us (this year Dh doesn't have a job). I do try and tell them that Christmas isn't about the amount of stuff you get. I must admit I still have guilt about not being able to get all the stuff they want or see their friends getting but I also know they don't need it and more stuff isn't going to make them happy in the long run. Besides they get plenty of stuff from other family members too.

Like you, we saved toys from the other kids and now we have an almost unmanageable amount! I can't wait to get rid of some soon as Sophia outgrows things.