Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Clothes vs. Toys vs. ...

So my SIL (disguised as my BIL) commented on my "what to get my family for Christmas this year" post. Since she raised a question that I think applies to more than her (and since I wasn't sure that she'd get my response if I only replied in the comments), I thought I'd dedicate an entire post to the question.

Basically, she stated that it sounded from my post like I'd rather the kids get clothes than toys this year. While that's true for the most part, it doesn't really capture all that's behind the scenes in that post. And since I think people think that I'm either:
a) overly-protective
b) overly-controlling
c) crazy
d) weird
e) all of the above
I wanted to explain a bit...

You see, my kids don't _need_ anything this year - they don't even really _want_ much (especially Joanna - pretty much you feed her, change her, let her sleep, and play with her occasionally and she's good). Plus, we live in a VERY SMALL condo that's already stuffed to overflowing with four people, a cat, a 55-gallon fish tank, a piano, and all the "stuff" that goes with all of that. At this point, more stuff is pretty much one of the largest sources of stress for (and between) me and VNB. Couple that with the fact that we both scored amazingly low (as in, I got a 0 and he got a 2, I think) on "Gift-giving" as our love language, and getting gifts just isn't important to us.

On the other hand though, we recognize that gift-giving is one way that people _OTHER_ than ourselves show us how much they love us and our kids and we don't want to completely take away that source of fulfillment for them. Nor do we want to deprive our kids of the "fun" of Christmas/birthdays (although we also don't want them to _expect_ gifts, but rather be grateful for any that come).

So, my solution thus far has been to post/email a list of the things that can be given to us which will make us (me) the least crazy while giving the most joy to (or meeting the thing that comes closes to a need for) the kids. Giving them a new VeggieTales DVD, for instance, will still add to the stuff that we have, but it will also give us another viewing option for when we're watching kids DVDs All. Day. Long. So I think the amount of craziness equals out. And while I really have no idea where we'd permanently store a board game for AJ, I also know that those will help him learn to count, which is rather high on my "to do" list at the moment (right now he can get to "eleben" sometimes).

But really, what would I _RATHER_ they have? I'd rather they get something small and you either give the rest of the money you would have spent to someone who really needs it, you save it (or give it to us to save) for someday when they want a car or to go to college or something. The kids aren't going to miss it either way.

The problem is going to come in when we have a bigger place (so I don't have that excuse anymore), but I still don't really want to them/us get any more stuff . We live in such a consumer culture. I _WANT_ my kids to learn to live simply (and _I_ want to be able to live simply) a) so that others might "simply live" (i.e., so that we can give more away), and b) so that they can learn from the beginning that gifts are something not that they are entitled to, but something which are completely unnecessary expressions of love and which should be accepted with gratitude, not expectation.

So that's what's going on in my head. Scary place, huh? It's not that we're ungrateful for any gift you would give us...I just want to maximize the joy it brings to us since I know that will maximize the joy you get in giving it.

1 comment:

Randy said...

"as scary as that is" that's what my mind thought you were getting at! ;) i know how stressful too much "stuff" can be, so I have always tried to keep that in mind. love you guys and had a wonderful time yesterday.