Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Conservative Christmas Catastrophe

In an effort to combat the materialism and endless flood of breakable plastic junk that seems to accompany each Christmas, my husband and I decided last year to limit the number of toys that came into our house on or around December 25th.  

Having just moved into our brand new digs complete with a big, open play room, we opted to splurge and purchase a "Bounce House" as the "big present."  Thinking that this would be a good lesson in appreciation and understanding that it is not quantity but quality that counts. 

What we failed to recognize is that when you are five and your Christmas's have previously included great quantities of gifts cascading out from under the tree, it is difficult to understand, regardless of how QUALITY the big present is, why you only got three gifts. 

Yep.  We got each kid three presents. 

And no stockings. 


Please don't get me wrong, the kids loved the bounce house and each of  their three gifts.  They were over the moon for them. 

They played all day and had so much fun but that was little comfort for the knife in my heart after hearing my oldest son say to my middle guy, "Wow.  Not many presents this year like the other years.  Guess we didn't do so good." 

Knife.  Heart.  Ouch.

The decision was made, right then and there,  that we would do our best to remedy the situation. 

And so it was that two remorseful parents went gallivanting on December 26th snapping up every single solitary toy that was left in any store in 40 mile radius.  We wrapped the gifts and stuffed the stockings.  We shoved it all back behind the tree and set about our plan. 

On December 27th when we began taking down the tree, my oldest son suddenly exclaimed, "Hey!!  We missed a present!  It is back here behind the tree!!"
"No way!"  my husband and I exchanged conspiratorial glances, "Is there just one?" 

"Holy Moly! There are bunch! And stockings too!"

When he emerged from beneath the tree with all the loot he said, "I guess Santa wasn't mad at us after all! He was just being tricky."

Knife. Heart. Twist.

Oh that sweet boy. 

Never again. 

It was declared on that day, that if we could help it, we would never again deny our children the bells and whistles of Christmas.  

We will never again forgo the excessive spending and wrapping in the name of teaching our kids about the true spirit of Christmas.

Those are lessons for the other 364 days of the year. We live our lives so that our children know how good it feels to give.  They are not materialistic.  They are not spoiled (by us).   They are DAMN good kids. 

They deserve to have Santa's magic come down our chimney and fill our house with toys and treats everything children believe Christmas to be. 

This year we will participate in the materialistic plastic celebration.  This year the stockings will be hung by the chimney with care.  This year St. Nicklaus will definitely be there. 

This year...we are prepared. 

This post was inspired by the Mama Kat's Writers Workshop


  1. why oh why didn't we have bouncy thingies when we were kids?

    Looks like it's gonna be an awesome Christmas in your home. =)

  2. They sound like really good kids. Hopefully Santa does not disappoint this year.

  3. You guys always have the best no matter what--you ARE the best!

  4. I'm coming to your house for Christmas. Yeah, Presents!

  5. Such a sweet story! My niece is finally old enough to understand quality as opposed to quantity. It's a nice switch!

  6. Thanks! I am looking forward to the days when they will really understand...but until then...we are JUNKING it up:)

  7. They are FABULOUS kids - we are so incredibly blessed!! I think that Santa def. got it right this year!!!

  8. Bounce Houses RULE!! I had to FORBID my husband from jumping so that it didn't break the first day...

    One year later - it is still a family fav!! It is TRULY the best money we EVER spent!!

  9. There is always room for one more around these parts!! Come on over!

    I do think it is going to be a good year to be a kid around here:) but they really deserve it!!!

  10. My eldest would SO be all, "But what else is there?"

    The kid got tons of stuff for his birthday from his friends. And yet, he still wanted more. Apparently he IS materialistic. Sigh.

  11. Ha, My husband and I have been fighting about gifts cuz he's mad that I already bought EVERYTHING for LB( Little Boy). Cars, trains and misc super fun toys. We're also finding it difficult to agree on when which presents will be opened; Santa Vs. Mom and Dad Christmas Eve Vs. Christmas Morning. Ah the struggles of being a Santa in training.

  12. Your story is funny. You had good intentions! I would have done the same in the end too. Kids are so darn cute.

    Stopping by via Mama Kat's!

  13. You have some great kids! Your story was funny. I would have done the same.
    Stopping by via Mama Kat's!

  14. Loved your story. I can just picture the two of you scrambling in the stores the day after Christmas to see what you could pick up. Sounds like you pulled it all off without a hitch and the kids had the added bonus of stretching out the holiday, too!
    Stopping by from Mama Kat's! Merry Christmas!

  15. Whao..a bouncy castle to play on.. My kids would certainly love it. We have decided that we aren't going to wrap the presents this year but clearly display them with the kids names tag on it on the table next to the small christmas tree.

  16. Thanks for the props!! It was EXACTLY like you pictured - the good news - we got some great deals:)

    It did work out ok BUT - the guilt was KILLER:)

  17. Thanks for stopping by:) I do have pretty awesome kids!!

    Will be checking out your Bees with Honey:) Sounds awesome!

  18. Thanks!!

    they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions - I find the road to Toys R Us is lined with them as well!

  19. I love it!! We had the same issues in the early days:) Good luck - I love the "Santa-in-Training" - soo cute and true!

  20. The bouncy castle was a HUGE hit!!

    I understand forgoing the wrapping - saves time, money and paper!!

    As part of my committment to all things frivolous in the Christmas Department...I'll be wrapping all gifts and probably using bows too:)

  21. That is funny - it is so natural for kids to want MORE MORE MORE -
    Heck - I still want more, more, more -

    it is our *fun* job to gently remind them that they are lucky to have gotten any at all...

    Of course I come from a long line of "oh, your legs hurt? that guy in the wheelchair doesn't have to worry about that....YOu are NO PITY" -

  22. "Guess we didn't do so good." - Oh gosh, a knife twisted in my heart too! But what a good save hiding the extra presents! I bet this is going to be an awesome Christmas :)

  23. Oh Yes - you betcha - Christmas will knock thier little socks off!!

  24. Ahhh...the parent guilt. Gotta love that, huh? Glad it worked :)

  25. Lesson well learned....we've contemplated this, but have this exact fear. This year, we got my 6yo a really big gift, and then limited the remaining gifts...but we'll get away with it because he'll have gifts from his grandparents, aunts and uncles to add to the chaos.

    LOVE the creative save. Smart mama!!! Stopping by from Mama Kats...

  26. Can't wait to see how this year matches up.

  27. I actually felt that knife ... urgh!
    But this post did make me wonder ... how many presents DO you usually give to your kids? How much money do you spend on the magic?
    I do not have this problem as my son is used to ONE gift only under the tree. I just could not afford more and he does get birthday presents the 2 days before christmas and the following days there will be grandparents etc. But still ... I wonder how many presents seem to be "the usual" with other parents!

  28. Presents have generally been somewhat limited from us/ Santa - the kids get SO MUCH stuff from Aunts & Grandparents that we needed to cut it out somewhere - our kids are the only ones in both families adn are spoiled accordingly.

    We do what we can, when we can...that is the best we can do:)

  29. thanks for the props! It was one of my better "saves" but of course - it was one of my BIG goofs as a parent so....I guess it just evened out:)