This post was written by Rebel from Rebel Without A Pause.
It has been republished here with her permission.
When I think of our last Christmas I don’t have fond memories.
Look, I mean sure, there was sun, and family, and food … all of that good stuff – but something happened last Christmas that made me reassess if the memories my children were making at yuletime would have the same impact on their lives as they grew as the memories that my childhood have given me. And it all has to do with ‘stuff’.
It began with us. In the lead-up to Christmas we hit the shops more and, as they do, the children began their campaign for ‘stuff’. That damn middle aisle at Aldi has so much ‘stuff’ just begging for their begging. And here is where we failed at parenting – we gave in without
too much any fight. What’s a couple of bucks when it stops the whining so you can get through the freezer section without a nervous breakdown, right?
But it sets a dangerous tone. A tone that says ‘stuff’ is not important, ‘stuff’ is easy to come by, ‘ I don’t need to really care about ‘stuff’.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, as it came time to prepare a wish list for the fat guy in the red suit, it became apparent that there was not much ‘stuff’ that would mean too much to the kids when all they had to do was mention ‘stuff’ and it seemed to magically appear in their hands. How do you make a gift feel special when your children have been completely indulged?
So we made a pact – less ‘stuff!’ #whininghappens. And we stuck to it. The wish list got practical, we have four kids, FOUR! Plus there were cousins coming to stay with us for the festive season too, if we did not get a handle on the ‘stuff’ situation not only would our kids be spoiled brats, we would be broke, our house would resemble something from the TV show Hoarders, and our kids would be walking all over us.
The only thing was, the rest of our family didn’t get the memo – and here is where Christmas took a sour turn last year. Christmas Day for us meant a gathering of family at a beautiful waterside location with cricket, and food, and swimming, and food, and swimming and more food … beautiful, right? And it was. However, as each family member turned up they brought with them a pile – and I am not exaggerating when I say PILE – of gifts for each of the children.
I’m sure in the minds of these very generous family members they were picturing a magical moment where grateful children sat down and gleefully ripped the paper from the gifts, marvelling at how fortunate they were and showing their appreciation for each and every carefully selected item of treasure and making memories that would last a lifetime.
Um, yeah … nah. It did NOT play out like that. Paper was ripped off, gifts were tossed over shoulders with nary a glance and hands were held out for the next item. There were even some items left unopened because the bounty was that plentiful.
“No, no, no …”, I say, urging the kids to take their time, to say thank you … mortified at how little appreciation they had. But it was not their fault. Really. It was ours – we were teaching them nothing about Christmas, and everything about ‘stuff’. ‘Stuff’ that apparently the kids could not care less about.
I want my children to be grateful. I want my children to have awe at how wonderful Christmas can be. I don’t want my children drowning in a sea of ‘stuff’ that means nothing to them.
This year the focus for my kids will be about giving rather than receiving – and for that to happen we have to make sure that the receiving is kept to a minimum.
One gift. That’s the plan.
The aim this year is to think of a gift that they’ll appreciate. One that they’ll use. One that will get more value for our hard-earned dollars than an hour or so of play before being tossed into a corner. We want to encourage their imaginations, get them outside, unplug them, and de-screen their little lives.
Originally we were thinking of items like bikes – which would be perfect – but the bikes they have are perfectly fine. To buy new ones would just be perpetuating this disposable ‘stuff’ idea that we are trying to eliminate.
It was Andy that suggested a cubby house. It’s an idea we have thought of of before, but to be honest the cost and time outlay involved has seen us constantly shelf the idea, and at first we did kind of think that again. Andy has long held the idea that he would design and build something himself, but working such long hours makes that idea kind of untenable.
Recently I’ve noticed more and more My Cubby houses popping up in my feeds and I began to pay attention. Think ‘kit home’ for cubbies. They are so bloody cool. There’s a reason they are flooding my feed.
Now that we are well and truly back into the school year and daily grind, it’s easy for parental guilt to sink in.We’re so busy with work, life and endless to-do lists, we’re exhausted, and playing with our kids is not always our top priority. And it shouldn’t always be,
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