As a child a LOVED Christmas. Could hardly sleep the night before. Bursting with anticipation over presents to be opened, candy to be eaten, toys to be played with.
As a parent, I’m having second thoughts. This was our first Christmas with a child old enough to understand the whole present getting scheme and to be honest it felt sort of awful. He screamed and cried starting about 5 am, demanding we open gifts. I tried the “you can open your stocking now but the rest has to wait until after breakfast” ploy; it worked, but only briefly.
Of course, it was an absolute joy to watch his excitement and silliness as he open the gifts addressed to him (and just about everyone else). But then, he didn’t want stop, to play with all of his new things, to enjoy what he had received. He just wanted MORE presents!
I felt terrible. Like I had unwittingly created another monster of American consumerism, who just acquires shit for the sake of acquisition and doesn’t really care what it is or where it came from or who was considerate enough to purchase it. A monster that just wants for the sake of wanting and buys for the sake of buying and that’s just f’d up, especially given how many people out there have so little.
To be fair he’s only three. And maybe this has to do as much with poor parenting on my part than as else. I mean, my husband and I weren’t really any better. We weren’t up crying for gifts at 5 am but we both bought each other too many gifts this year. Nice, lovely, thoughtful gifts but in the end just more stuff to fill up our already very full home.
I told my husband I want to change things for next Christmas, when the twins will be almost but not quite able to understand. Each family member can ask for one present they really want. That’s it. Or even better, maybe we do a family gift, like a trip together. I’m still working out the details but I’m convinced there has to be a better way. I don’t want to spend another Christmas feeling sick with shame as a parent. I owe my kids better than that.