Saturday, November 24, 2007

And a dolly, and a sled, and a new dress...


I have been hopelessly negligent in posting these days...here is a little Christmas cheer to get everyone in the mood.

I have waxed poetically about my urge and need to reduce and control the clutter in our house, the cathartic experience of freeing yourself from stuff. As we ramp up for the time of year when the most holiest and materialistic marry up in a dual to the finish, I find myself thinking of ways to do things better. Move away from the stuff and move towards helping others, creating memories and opening the girls up to new experiences. Angels singing in the background.

I am still wrestling with our five present rule we (admittedly made up and in fact quite random) a few years ago. That would be five gifts from Santa only on Christmas morning plus their stockings (stockings contain a toothbrush, socks, undies, maybe a small book -just the little things). We have not started any gifts from each other and so far we are happy with the simplicity of Christmas morning this way. The girls have three sets of grandparents, many other relatives and friends so they get many gifts. I put a lot of thought into their gifts and most everyone checks with me so I can make sure the girls they get things they want and will use...not just more plastic crap. She says as she lugs the Dora Let's Get Ready Vanity to the basement in a garbage bag...the ONLY item in Rosebud's letter to Santa...she eventually added a few other random items after much prompting. You can't get any more plastic and crap in one gift and let it be known I wrestled hard over this purchase and got it on sale for nearly half price. Guilt recedes a bit.

I don't exactly announce our five present idea to everyone I meet, but it has leaked it's way out and around in the last few years. It has been met with many a mixed review. Most older people yelp about how five is such a large number of gifts, surely one or two would do? Don't you have sticks and rocks for them already?!

Then on the other hand we get a lot of people who think we are just plain Scrooge-like and we are ruining Christmas and compromising their sweet holiday memories forever. Five was made-up, it had no significance other than it seemed like plenty to oh and ah over and to ensure it didn't look like Santa had forgotten us and few enough gifts that they didn't sit around for hours in an opening frenzy with about as much enthusiasm for each gift as Britney has for underwear.

We are sticking to our plan for this year since it all works out quite well in terms of what they want, what Santa is willing to give, and what I think is enough without being too much. My worst fear (well, one of the top five at least) is raising ungrateful little monsters who are looking for what is coming next. Beck had some great ideas for simple food and craft gifts that are easy to make and much more personal to give and receive. The girls and I are going to try the cocoa in a jar this year along with some shortbread cookies we make, a perfect homemade gift I would say and simple enough that I won't lose my mind in the process.

I am still deciding what charity project we will be doing this year. Our school is not doing the Shoebox campaign this year which is too bad because it is such a great project for young kids to work on. Instead we are doing an adopt-a-family campaign and collecting donations for five families. I want to do something else for just our family, to really send the message to the girls that we are privileged. Not to make them feel bad, they should not be made to feel guilty for being born into our family; but to make them aware that along with this privilege comes a responsibility. A responsibility to share our resources with those less fortunate than us, if I can not only get that message across in a way they understand, but can instill it in my girls; then I will have done well.

Making memories, creating traditions and helping others is the spirit of the season I want my girls to remember long after the gifts are opened.

10 comments:

Beck said...

Sticks and rocks, heh heh.
I only wanted to give three gifts - one from Santa, two from us - but instead we give a big disgusting pile of gifts, in large part because grandma shows her love by buying stuff and we needed to compete.
I lose at Christmas!

The New Mom on the Blog said...

Wow! 5 presents just from Santa...that's more that enough to start a big smile on the kids face....though they are little things, but who cares, kids just love presents...

we have decided to start giving the boys christmas presents this year...at least now they are 'big' enough to know the excitement...

Barrie said...

What a terrific post! I love the five present rule. I aim for a number like that and generally fail. But I figure without a goal, I'd probably let Christmas get way, way out of hand.

I had a single dad call me a couple of years ago to check if he'd bought enough for his kids. FORTY gifts for each of them!! I almost fell over!

Alpha DogMa said...

I think 5 presents per girl is perfect. And parents who criticize are just jealous that you've got the strength to stand up to the marketing and the hype and your children. I think it is great.

Santa only does the stockings. We try to go for small stuff -- though this does not always translate to small price tag -- and then give the boys one largish ($25) present from us under the tree.

One thing we do that really cuts down on the mess and the chaos: remove all the packaging on toys before Christmas and then using cloth gift bags. Because really the plastic shells, cardboard, elastic bands, metal twist ties, bows, wrap and ribbon is overwhelming.

Mad Hatter said...

Last year, I was overwhelmed by Christmas. We got Miss M a few things but by the time presents from friends and relatives rolled in, we were swamped. I'm hoping to cut down on it all this year but I know that I've already bought more than I ought. The good thing about Miss M having a birthday in January is that I can always keep a few things in reserve.

Jenifer said...

Mad, I rationalize the same way since Papoosie Girl's b-day is just days after Christmas.

Mimi said...

I really like your system: I think it's great. And you really are a very thoughtful person, Jenifer--your kids can hardly turned out spoiled monsters with you as a parent. Good luck finding a good project for all of you to work on.

Christine said...

if it makes you feel better our kids are only getting 5 gifts each. one of their gifts is a shared set of lincoln logs from santa.

and i completely agree that with privilege comes responsibility. i think you are doing a fine job with those girls.

NotSoSage said...

Sounds like you guys have a nice way of celebrating the season.

We have a self-imposed one-present rule (from us, as parents). We did that last year and, what with all the gifts from relatives and such, I don't think she even noticed. We'll see how long that lasts once she gets wind of what other kids are getting at Christmastime! :)

Kelly Malloy said...

I thinks five sounds like a great number! Especially when my kids are asking for things like Zunes and Guitar Hero 3 for the wii! Oh for the days when I could buy presents for under $20!