A Toned Down Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

 Confession: Our last Christmas was slightly out of control, and the morning ended with the most epic fight that we, as a family, have ever had. There were way too many presents, a combination of me being hyper organized, and it being the first Christmas that both boys remember being a part of. Also, our kids are the only grand kids, nephews, etc… so even without realizing it, things start to add up. My husband hates "stuff" and "waste" and I'm all about making magical memories, and last year it just didn't work. We had my sister and her boyfriend over first thing in the am, and a few hours later the kids were bouncing off the walls, a combination of present overload, coupled with sugar overload, and everyone lost there damn mind by noon.

 That night, over a very large glass of wine, we decided that this coming year we would do things a little differently. We would spend the month of Christmas making memories that didn't include actual gifts, and on Christmas day we would really limit what the kids received, and keep it small, with just our family of four. My annoyingly, always right husband, made the point that unlike when we were kids, and holidays were pretty much the only time we received gifts, our kids pretty much get what they want throughout the year. I don't think they are spoiled exactly, it's just that if they really want something, there is always a way to "earn" it, whether it's allowance, star charts, the first and final day of school surprise, or the we're going on vacation for a month, and you all need a few things so you don't kill each other. You all know the deal. So, by then, giving them even more for Christmas and Birthdays, things can get a little excessive. Let's not even get in to the fact that I'm the one who then constantly has to pick up, organize and find space for everything. It is not a good scene. 

I really took our conversation to heart and this year we have definitely made a change. As a family we got really in to the Christmas spirit, with crafts, the elf on the shelf, cookie and gingerbread making, tree trimming, etc, and then found ways to get the kids involved in giving back. Each were responsible for getting toys for their Toys for Tots collection and we "adopted" someone in need to help make their Christmas dreams come true. I've had a lot of discussion with the kids about what happened in the Philippines and how much need there is around the world, as well as close to home, and the LM has really responded to that. He/ we decided that the boys would only get 3 toys (Lego's for the LM) and anything else would be items they actually needed (pajamas, blankets for their beds, books.) While they won't have a ton to open the day of, I know what they are receiving in exactly what they want, and there will definitely not be any opening, and then quickly moving on to the next box like last year… They are going to be psyched, and we are going to escape world war three. We also reached out the the extended family, and each have, or will, receive something when we are all together. That way they get to see them enjoying it, and the kids will really remember who it was from. Short of a new (much needed) Nespresso machine, we aren't doing any gifts for us adults, and we let the kids know that it's because we have everything we need. 

I realize that none of this is exactly groundbreaking, but I have to say it has been really refreshing for me, because not only has it allowed me to make more positive memories with the kids, over more time. But it has also made gift buying, and giving a breeze. We are still going to spend time with our extended family on Christmas eve, and the day of, after the present opening is done (which should be pretty quick) we are all looking forward to going to the movies. It should be a nice day. A nice, toned down day. 


Lou said...

Hello - I read this late last night and have come back this morning to comment! Firstly - you've been posting a lot this week and that's been cool - always like to see you in my reader. Secondly on the pared-back Christmas; I so agree! It's refreshing to hear that others have had the same experience as we had and I totally get what you say about how our kids have everything they need. I actually realise now that this is why parenting feels so hard sometimes as my husband and I try to parent the way we were parented and frankly, for this generation we created it doesn't work!

Life has changed and with the availability of all things (from constant cartoons on TV to iphones to media pushing the 'perfect' toy all year round) means we have to be more innovative than just repeat our childhood Christmas traditions.

So I love the ides of keeping it chilled and we too have decided to have a completely different kind of Christmas as last year had a car crash quality to it; I'm not shame-faced to admit it.

So my American bestie - you speak the truth. Have a lovely Christmas with your boys.
Lou x

Valerie said...

I love this idea. I've been saying for years that my house already looks like toys r us broke in and exploded. I keep trying to tone it down or suggest presents that create experiences as opposed to more toys. However I cannot seem to get one single person (ahem my parents) on board. Good for you! I can't wait to hear more about it and perhaps share your successes with those that doubt me and this idea.

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And Happy New Year.....