My husband is a generous man. So right off the bat, I’m going to come off sounding like a real Scrooge here – one that is so thrifty, I could warm the cockles of old Scrooges’ cheap heart (I’m talking pre-ghostly-visitor-Scrooge). But I’m true to my beliefs, so here I go.
Thomas and I give gifts very differently, especially to our children. My rules are:
1. Have a realistic budget.
2. Ask the kids what they really, really, really want.
3. While sticking to said budget, get them what they want because, well, it’s what they wanted to receive!
4. Feel all warm and glowy inside because you made your kids happy, because I remember how great it was to look under the tree and see the gift I’d really wanted, and because this moment will end soon enough and it will be back to parenting hell.
5. Oh, and if you have multiple kids, keep it all even both in quantity and in type of gift. I keep a chart in my wallet on which I keep track of who I’ve bought which gift for so that I don’t overbuy for one kid or forget that I already bought them something back in October. Yes, I shop ahead. Don’t judge me.
Here’s where Thomas and I differ. Whereas I believe in buying people what THEY WANT, he believes in buying them WHAT HE FEELS THEY SHOULD HAVE. Big difference. It’s the difference between getting the latest Rick Riordan book and getting a book on bird watching. It’s the difference between getting the hoodie you’ve had your eye on and getting a pair of PJ’s that were a great deal. It’s the difference between “Yea, it’s the (fill in the blank) I wanted! Thank you so much!” and “Um…thanks.”
Maybe the solution for Thomas and I, and the salvation of our marriage during the holidays, is to adopt that popular gift-giving guideline of “Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read” – but only as long as those four presents stay within budget!
For me, gift giving is a chance to surprise and delight the recipient. It tells them “I was thinking of you, and when I saw this gift it spoke to me… it made me think of something in your character.” Sure, it is easier to buy the kids something they stated they wanted. But I see gift giving as an opportunity to stretch the kids’ sense of themselves… not to just take and fulfill a gift order. They can do that with allowance, right?
So when I purchased a birding field guide for my youngest son, it was in response to his interests in the natural world on our camping trips… it was also my way of encouraging and fostering this interest. Sure, he wanted yet another deck of Pokemon cards- but that thought gave me no pleasure and he could purchase that for himself.
Courtney is right that he was less than thrilled when he opened the book, but I also knew that he would be able to enjoy it for years to come. Oh, and BTW, I enjoy buying the kids plenty of silly little stocking stuffers to give them that Christmas morning thrill!
We say: Let us know what you do? What’s your gift-giving philosophy?
Happy Holidays from Parent Tango!
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