Am I horrible parent or what? Thanks for stopping by ParentalGrit today, where I’m confessing my sins of cheapness for all who care to hear. Christmas moves ever closer and yet my wife and I sit content knowing our Christmas shopping is all done…or not. No, very little of our Christmas shopping is done. We have, however, managed to cross our little family of four off the list so only the extended family remains. One of the challenges of coming from large families is writing out a Christmas list that rivals Mr. Santa’s himself…seems like new cousins and nieces and nephews surface each and every year. Enough about that shopping procrastination, we’re here today to curse my name to heavens high for only spending $3.99 on my own family this year…and that’s no typo.
One of my fatherly mottos that has, thus far, managed to instantly annoy everyone I have ever shared it with is this: babies don’t need presents….they have no idea what is going on and will remember nothing. It is on the backbone of this philosophy that we spent $0.00 on Everly, our 10-month old little bundle of love. That was a fun box to check as we went through the Christmas list; time required = none, money required = none. And yet, some way somehow, I have a sneaking suspicion that little Everly will still love us come December 26th. We’ll pass off an empty box once gifts are unwrapped and I imagine the little munchkin will be delighted to eat cardboard and crawl around in a sea of wrapping paper.
Now that we have the youngest daughter covered, we move on to the toddler Eliza, who somehow managed to capture 100% of this year’s Christmas budget; that’s right, the whole $3.99 was spent on my darling first born. How extravagant! Eliza, having recently turned three years, is still on the fringe of that SHE WON’T REMEMBER age. How much does one buy a toddler for Christmas? And how far does $3.99 take you in the land of drones, playstations, iPads, and all that other nonsense? Not bloody far! We landed on a Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad Mercer Mayer book that we found on Amazon for, yep, you guessed it, three dollars and ninety-nine cents. My wife loved Mercer Mayer growing up and we’ve got three or four others currently in the series, so I have a strong feeling this present will be a hit with Miss Eliza come Christmas day. Is that enough for a toddler? Maybe, maybe not…but she does have a large, loving family that will help plunge her into a few days of present overwhelm so I’m not too concerned she’s missing out.
Shall I step upon my soap box and preach on the absurdity of lavish Christmases for unassuming or—worse yet—ungrateful children? Should I mock the millions of families swimming in credit cards and holiday related debt for a spending blur they’ll regret by the second week of January? Or should I scream CONSUMERISM and lament on the perversion of a sacred season that was once predicated on family connection but is now bookended by Black Friday sales and post-Christmas discounts? None of the above. Outrage really isn’t my style and to each their own. We all plow through the holidays at our own pace and do our best to meet the expectations we’ve created in our minds. These expectations may come from our own experiences and what we once enjoyed as kids or they may very well stem from all the things we didn’t have as children. Regardless, the hope is that we all celebrate this Christmas with the intention of creating a memorable experience for our children, no matter how that might manifest. It could be a jam-packed under-the-Christmas-tree onslaught of desired toys, it could be a holiday lights driving ritual, or it could be homemade cookies and a binge watch of Christmas classics.
Are we too cheap? Perhaps, but I’m quite comfortable in the knowledge that my three year-old will be blown away by all the Christmas fun headed her way, even if her only present from Mom and Dad was a cheap book off the Internet. My girl loves to read, so why not get her a gift that gives her one more excuse to cuddle into my arms each evening and lovingly demand (like a three foot tall dictator) that I READ READ READ a new favorite book…sounds like a Christmas present for us both!