Every year I say it. Yet, every year, I definitely do not do it.
“This year, I’m not buying so much for the kids for Christmas.” Followed by the usual “They’ve got so much” “I need to stick to my budget” etc etc, blah blah blah.
When Lylah was old enough to appreciate presents, I started to get so excited as her birthday and Christmas drew near. They fall within 5 days of each other, so as you can imagine, it’s a busy and expensive time! At the age of 1, Lylah appreciated anything she could tear open! I got carried away in Mothercare, and was gobsmacked by how affordable cute toys for children were. This was when I was receiving a bigger pay packet at the end of every month, and a tenner for another toy kitchen accessory in the sale didn’t seem excessive.
Since then, and almost 5 years later, this time of year hurts my head. I look around my house and I’m filled with guilt at the sheer amount of stuff my children have, and I then panic about where the new stuff is going to fit. I want to spoil my children at Christmas time and on their birthdays, but equally, I believe that neither of them know the value of what they get, nor do they really appreciate when they get something new. That’s not their faults. They have grown up with everyone around them buying them whatever they want, within reason. It’s the kind of society we live in nowadays. You pop to the supermarket for milk, and think nothing of throwing in a bargain bin toy as a treat/bribe to keep them quiet. The treats become regular, and the circle becomes more vicious, as you struggle between wanting to lavish them with goodies, but also want to teach them how to be responsible human beings.
I cannot speak for everyone of course, this is just my own experience and that of a few others I know. I know there are many parents who try and bring their children up with great values. I do too, however, sometimes I let the toy sales get the better of me.
There is something that happens inside of me when I enter the bright lights of a supermarket or toy store. Everything catches my eye. I can’t ignore the shiny packaging, or the fact that the last figurine that Lylah needs to complete a collection is not only in stock, but it is half price! I constantly justify it to myself, buying things, and then telling myself the 100 reasons why we did really need that.
I’d love to have the courage to go back to basics. To scrap everything that is a Christmas commodity, and buy one, small but special present each for the children. The reality is, that will never happen. Not when I am in the position to buy them more. I appreciate how spoilt that sounds, and I know there are people who will struggle to buy just that, but I’m writing this from a place of genuine confusion. I’m torn between what I know is right, and what is another junk present for the Christmas pile. I am equally a strong believer in treating your children to nice things if you are able to. After all, my husband and I work hard, and we do it all for our children. We also save money for them, and are making sure they are set up for the future – it’s not all about the latest Barbie doll. But that doll brings a glimmer to my children’s eyes. The sight of them tearing open presents and loving them is one that can’t be beaten.
So this year, I have taken a mixed approach. I’m not going to guilt myself into not buying them the things they’d like, but equally, you won’t see a mound of presents the height of my tree. I’m not going to so mean as to start buying Lylah joint Christmas and Birthday presents, but I have explained to her that her birthday pile is won’t be very big, as the Lego she’d love costs more money and mummy and daddy can’t afford loads of it. We’ve donated bags to charity, and filled a Christmas shoe box, and I’m making more of an effort to teach my children about those who aren’t anywhere near as privileged as they are. I’m holding myself back from the Christmas aisles, flooded with overpriced goods and brightly wrapped treasures, as I know we don’t need all of that stuff to make our own Christmas special.
In a year that saw me lose my Nonno, this Christmas must be more about love and family, than large and expensive gifts. Hopefully, year by year, I can pass these values on, and my children can do the same for their little ones.
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