Please excuse any typos. I’m writing this from a small island in my home that has not been overrun with new Christmas toys. For anyone new to the blog, I have three children at home age four and under. This means 3x the toys at Christmas time and 3x the toys throughout the year for birthdays. Since our kids are not quite old enough to accept a handful of cash, it means a lot of plastic items that are impossible to remove from the packaging without the jaws of life. Add in the overstimulation of needing to play with every single toy for exactly 30 seconds before tossing it aside and playing with the next, then doing the toy circuit again, and even two days after Christmas it’s a disaster around here.
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This is not the fault of my husband or I. Last week we both looked at each other and said, “I guess we should get the kids something for Christmas, huh?” To which we both answered the other with “No. They have so much and will already get so much from other people.” The season of greed got the better of us, however, and on Christmas Eve we found ourselves in the kids’ section at the bookstore looking for a few things to wrap from “Santa.” We found a total of six books, two for each kid, and called it a day. We wrapped them up. From Santa. I already knew we had plenty of room on the bookshelf to accommodate.
The answer is complicated and is due to our family being a combined one. Since I got married in May, my daughter’s grandparent circle has grown from two sets to three. In all three families, there are aunts, uncles and cousins that want to buy her gifts on holidays. Even if every person buys her one small item, it multiples rather quickly. And, fyi, everyone does NOT buy her one small gift. The same goes for my stepchildren. They have three families that begin sending text messages to my husband and I the day after Thanksgiving, asking what the four-year-old and two-year-old would like to unwrap for Christmas. Even if we make one small suggestion to each inquiring gift-giver, it adds up. Multiply each person buying for each kid times three. Then add in some extras from the grandparents who understandably want to give more.
While it is overwhelming in a “how the heck do I find the hours in the day to put all of this stuff away” sort of way, I realize that it is a blessing to have children who are so loved. The extra items that my stepchildren receive from members of their mom’s family even out with the extra items that my daughter receives from her paternal side. And they are all so close in age that it is basically like each toy belongs to each of them, so they are receiving 3x the gifts.
And I realize that it could be worse. The people who asked us for gift suggestions heeded our advice (mostly) and bought meaningful things that all three could share (like a Nintendo Wii, Wii games, DVDs and a play kitchen set). The kids also received some contributions to their college funds. Several books were received and immediately loved. They got pajamas and clothing. The rest of the items make our kids happy and that makes me happy.
How about everyone else? Do you feel like your kids got (gulp) too much this year? What items do you suggest to family members and friends as gifts for your kids and what items do people heed?
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