Am I a scrooge?

A friend and I have been talking lately about kids Christmas presents. While I had some pretty over the top lavish Christmas's as a kid, as I grow up I now see the ridiculousness in it. This last Christmas out of everything I got my most favorite gift was the page my mom made of my son for my scrapbook. I liked it because it was from the heart and it was cheap. There have only been a few presents in my life that I actually remember and value. One was pretty recent which was my camera, one was the Nintendo old school my grandma bought me that I still use nearly 20 years later, and one was cooking classes from my mom. While all of these things are a little pricey they were all extremely thoughtful gifts and the only gift I received. As a child I can't say that I really remember much of what I got besides some Barbies here and there and that is just a guess. I remember the year I got my play kitchen set, not because of the kitchen set but because it was the year I caught my mom being Santa.

Brandon will be 2 this year. TWO. He is little. He will have no memory of this year at all and yet he will be old enough to understand Christmas. This year for Christmas Brandon will be getting the following:
An art easel (so he will quit coloring on my damn carpet, walls, counters and doors) under $60.00
A cheap kids camera not more then $20.00
A DVD of some movie
and then in his stocking he will be getting some different kinds of Cheeto's and some cookies that he can eat as much of that he wants and some books.

That is it. Do I sound like a cheap scrooge? Probably. But! He will love each of those things. I am getting the easel because coloring pictures is possibly his favorite thing ever on the planet. However since he has no where to color he just sits on the floor coloring. That means his carpet is red blue and green. He also colors on the walls and doors. I really can't wait to have a place for him to sit and color. The greatest part is each year that he gets older he can use it for something new. He can use it for painting in a few years, then clay, and water colors and so on. It's not a toy it's a piece of furniture that will be used every day for the next 6 years probably until I buy him a nicer desk. Every day for the last year Brandon has stolen my camera and taken pictures. On Tuesday alone he took 54 pictures of his walls, TV, floor, bed, self, foot, and nothing. He doesn't look at the pictures at all, he actually just loves to watch the damn flash go off. DVD's are his favorite thing to do in the morning. He likes to go in and pop in a movie and sit on his bed and watch his Superman TV and invite mom and dad into HIS room. As far as the Cheeto's and cookies, those are his favorite foods and he gets soooo excited any time he gets them. In fact if I bring him a toy or some Cheeto's he would pick the damn orange puffs each time. Finally he has just gotten into books and loves making us read to him. To me I'm not spending to much money on a Christmas that he won't remember but I am getting him stuff that will make him so excited and happy he won't be able to contain himself.

However, a friend of mine is giving her kid a very different Christmas. He is two. She is getting him all kinds of toys. Full tool set with tool bench and all, a tractor with a trailer that pulls a horse, Elmo electronics, and on and on and on. Combined with his 5 year old sister I believe she said she spent close to $500.00! When she told me this I nearly shit myself. So many things jumped out at me, things like,
Thats a lot of fucking money to spend on such young kids who will forget the day in 6 months. It's a lot to spend on a 2 year old whose interests will change in a few weeks.
If you buy them this much this year they will come to expect this much or more every year.
Isn't this a holiday about family and God and not about buying uber ridiculous amounts of presents?

Her response was that this was normal, the kids don't have many toys, they don't think they spent enough and it is Christmas and for kids that means buying them a lot of stuff. I basically came across as a scrooge when I said she was out of her ever loving mind. I asked a second friend who has a 3 year old. Her daughter is getting a bike. The bike is from Walmart it cost $30.00. Then she is getting some DVD's. Sounds like a totally normal Christmas. She is getting her daughter ONE really big (big to a three year old) item, that is still reasonably priced and then a few smaller gifts. Her child won't be so overwhelmed with toys she won't know what to do, she will really respect and cherish her one really big toy and she won't spend future Christmas's expecting to get showered with copious amounts of crap. Then I thought back to all of my friends. It seemed their holidays were similar to mine. We got ONE big ticket item and then some small things. I don't remember many of the ones when I was young, (which is exactly my point) but as I got older I got things like a leather coat, and then smaller little things like a book or Barnes and Noble gift card. I would get a stereo for my truck and then maybe a gift card to tower to buy CD's to play in it. Friends like Katie would get a nice piece of jewelry and then some cool clothes and other smaller things. To me this way of thinking makes complete sense. If you give the kids to many big things all at once isn't that like sensory overload and really how do they get a chance to appreciate each item when they are just opening toy after toy after toy and tossing them aside for whatever is next or bigger or better?

What do you guys think? Am I a scrooge? Am I an asshole for not wanting to spend a shit ton of money on small kids? What are you doing for your kids this year? This is driving me nuts because I really don't want kids who grow up and think Christmas is just about getting a bunch of cheap shitty plastic toys that were probably made in China, rather then having it be about family and getting one really great item that you cherish forever! This is the exact reason I don't really like Christmas. I hate that it has become about seeing how much crap you can buy for people. I know some of you will say my way of thinking makes sense for adults but kids deserve to be spoiled. But then that is what happened, you end up with spoiled kids!


karla said...

I'm with you Shannon. I don't think you are being scrooge, I think you are being reasonable.

We have a small budget for Nate this year and I am totally OK with that because DUDE, do you know how much of dent $500 bucks could make on your mortgage? That's like months, maybe years, saved in interest payments alone!

Sigh, but I digress.

Kat said...

I am with you as well. You're not a scrooge. My nephew got a really neat toy last christmas. He unpacked it played with it for 20 minutes, then the box it came in was much more interesting to him and he ended up playing with the box.

No need to spend $500 on your kid for Christmas to show them you love 'em and where's that gonna leave you for their 12th birthday? You gotta buy them a house or a Porsche...

Mark & Christie said...

We are in the same boat. We are getting Samuel a stocking with a few neccessites (pacifiers, bibs, etc.) and a DVD (he is 3 months old, so pretty much I'm thinking of what he'll enjoy in the next year.) I bought him an outfit on clearance from Target, a pair of shoes, and a little chair from Babies R Us that I actually purchased with gift cards that I received at showers...

Why am I hardly getting him anything?

Becuase like you said, he'll never remember... he doesn't REALLY NEED anything, and he has enough aunties and grandmas and grandpas that will shower him with love and gifts this Christmas season... so now, you aren't a scrooge, you are being a financially responible parent who is truly thinking about what their child would want for Christmas... weather they be cheetos or a brown cardboard box, it is the THOUGHT that counts, not the debt you put on your credit card.

Someone Being Me said...

I found really good deals on most of the stuff I picked out for Bear. My mom got him a toy box which was $100.00 but that is kind of a gift for the whole family as it will go in the living room and give me a place to stash his stuff. I spent 34.00 on his most expensive gift and the rest I got on sale at Amazon or Walmart on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Like the little Hasbro giraffe is normally $40.00 on Toys R Us but Amazon has it for $10.00 today. The little musical sun I got him is like 30.00 on Amazon but we got it at Steinmart for like $10.00. I think I spent about 50.00-75.00 total on Bear. My dad is getting him a car seat as his big present from him and a wagon for his birthday in January. I think one big gift and a few smaller gifts is appropriate.

Patty said...

No way are you being a Scrooge. I have never met the person who remembers exact what the got on their 2nd, 3rd even 4rd Christmas. My parents were exactly the same. We got on BIG toy (broad game, barbie, cabbage patch kid, or nintendo) and a few smaller things. Besides our Aunt & Uncles got us different toys so we had plenty and never lacked.

You know I don't remember the toys but I remember we would go to my Aunt's house and us kids would put on a Christmas show for the parents, we sang, my sister and I played the piano, we did the nativity scene and one of the uncles played Santa at midnight. My sister out my dad when he was Santa, she said that's not Santa that's daddy and pulled the beard off we all cracked up!!!

That is what I remember not which toy I got.

I love to buy presents for my loved ones because I can spoil them now but even if I could not afford presents we would still have an AWESOME Christmas because the holiday is not about what you get. I love the part of giving.

Anonymous said...

You are not being unreasonable! Children should be taught that money has value. Besides, Christmas is not about giving material gifts. As much as you love your children, showering them with tons of gifts is not doing them any good. Your children don’t need a bunch of gifts; spending time with them is so much more valuable.

If you have money to spare and want to get into the Christmas spirit, donating money to a charity is a good use of that money. Spending +$500 on Christmas presents—which is hopefully a rare occasion—should be reserved for things that will be used and enjoyed over and over (cameras, computers).

Your children are adorable by the way:)

MrsGrumpy said...

Not in the least Shannon. You are smart as hell. One, they won't remember it. Two, they will want big ticket items soon enough. My children usually get one big thing (PSP,camera type things) and then I am so bad that I wrap up socks and underwear, gloves and hats, shoes and whatnot and put it under the tree. Heck, they need it and it's one more thing for my son to be excited about opening. I admit to struggling this year with not going crazy and buying the Wii that they want, and the television, laptop etc... that they want in an effort to sponge away some of the pain from not having Daddy here. But, I must resist, because I can't replace something that priceless with technology.

Christy said...

Last year we didn't buy Porgie any Christmas gifts - she was only 6 months old. This year we bought her 4 gifts, but none of them were expensive (I probably spent about $50 total). I don't understand parents who spend tons of money on small children. My friend J had her little boy's 1st birthday party at a play zone for children, which cost her $300 for ONE HOUR! I would NEVER spend that much on a birthday party. NEVER.

Cristina Mathers said...

last year, since ellie's b-day was jan 3rd, we basically didn't buy her any Christmas presents. We gave her a few and then a few more on her bday. this year we are doing the same because quite frankly she get enough stuff throughout the year and i am tired of tripping over toys. i will buy her some educational stuff and call it good.
as kids, my folks gave us 3 presents because thats what Jesus got from the wise men. then we got the big on from santa. also stocking stuffers. works out great!

Jeninacide said...

Yep. I am totally with you. I don't think Christmas should be about massive amount of presents and toys that your child will probably not even play with. It is about family and giving to OTHERS and not about buying tons of plastic crap that will end up in landfills.

We are obviously keeping it simple for Cole this year but in the years to come we plan on focusing on FAMILY. Not presents.

Swistle said...

I remember when I was younger I was VERY JEALOUS of a friend of mine who got bike, sneakers, stereo, books, sweaters, games, ETC ETC ETC, while my parents spent $20 per child total (that was in the early '80s, so more than $20 would be now, but still not a ton). My mom pointed out that different families make different decisions about how to spend on Christmas, and how much to spend on vacations, and how much to spend on clothes, etc etc etc, and that probably my friend's family would think we were nuts for some other thing we spent money on. I felt a little better--but still jealous!

We try to keep it reasonable, mostly because we noticed that after a certain number of presents (the number is something like 3), kids aren't really enjoying the presents anymore, they just rip off the paper. So we keep it at around 3.

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