This is a post from last year, but it is an important one for me to remember every year.
When I was writing for an Arizona newspaper, my paths crossed with a family life coach named Keri Maughan for a few articles, and I was always amazed by her wisdom and techniques. However, one thing she said floored me..."My children only get ONE gift from Santa at Christmas time." I was shocked! Was she the Grinch? Who has every heard of Santa only bringing ONE gift?
Then I sat back and listened to her reasoning:
- Santa brought what was most wanted. It could have been big, small, expensive or cheap but he brought the item the child was most hoping for. No worries about "fairness" or the money spent per child. If you get the item you are most hoping for, all is fair.
- This cut down on all the filler gifts that were immediately discarded once the "real" gift was opened.
- It allowed the child to stop and take in the gift and then spend time playing with and enjoying it instead of wondering what else was under the tree.
- When other gifts were given, the child was able to show gratitude for the gift and realize that someone sacrificed to give them something nice. Much less entitlement on Christmas morning.
- It allowed for Christmas magic regardless of the families' financial situation.
It all sounded really great to me. So, for the past few years Santa has (mostly) brought our kids one big gift and then a book, a DVD, and some simple stocking stuffers. The rest of the items carry tags "From: Mom and Dad" or "Love: Grandma and Grandpa."
We still get all the Christmas magic we are hoping for and our kids don't set unrealistic or incredibly greedy expectations or create mile long lists for the jolly man in the big red suit. They understand that with mom and dad there is a finite amount of money to spent each year...some years are fatter and some years are leaner, but we always have incredible Christmases.
I cannot tell you how grateful I was that we had started this tradition when we went back to grad school at U of M with 3 kids. I knew Christmas would be slim and we were an entire country away from extended family. However, both Christmases were still wonderful occasions and Santa came through with one great gift while the rest of the items were second hand, from grandparents, or found at incredible deals. Even still, our little apartment was warm and cozy with plenty of love and still too many gifts to even wrap our minds around. It's astounding that it still always seemed like too much.
At this time of year, I am especially grateful to be able to provide Christmas for our family. I know it is a luxury many don't have, so reach out and make sure each child has at least ONE present from Santa this year by visiting your local Angel Tree or contacting your church or city about families in need.