Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All I Want for Christmas Is Just One Thing. Truly.

It's the 1st of December, which means we can all officially say "Christmas" without fear of a grinchly whack in the bum. It also means spending - sorry, 'giving'. I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to shop, but what with the whole credit crunch/attack of eco-consciousness, the huge amount of wastage that Christmas entails has dampened my spirits slighty. (Only slightly, my daughter and I have been busy making an advent calendar, cutting out Christmas baking recipes, glueing and coluring handmade cards, writing Santa letters/avoiding Santa in stores, and generally being festive now that she's old enough to understand what's going on).

Think about it - mountains of wrapping paper, loads of leftovers, endless cardboard boxes and those annoying twisty tie things that hold things in place...it all makes the green side of me a bit nauseous. Still, there are things you can do - recycle, donate, plan. There is one part of Christmas that really really shits me and there isn't anythng you can do about it except blog it out - overbuying. For kids.

Naturally, small talk on the playground recently has been centred on "what Santa is bringing". It's a sickening sign of the times that I feel like a stingy old grinch when the inevitable question is asked of me and all I reply is "a space hopper". There follows a questioning pause, after which I am expected to fill the silence either with an ongoing list of pointless plastic crap, or an endless reasoning on why that is all Santa will be chucking down our chimney this year. Lately I've been so over it that I just cross my arms and smugly state, "she doesn't want anything else. Nor does she need anything else."

This is true on both counts. Despite browsing through every toy shop in town with the instructions to "pick anything you like to tell Santa about" and continual hints ("how about a doll's house?") all I get in return is a disaffected "meh, I don't really like anything except the soccer ball (Nanna has grabbed that one)" and "I want a green bouncy head! That's what I want, I told you already!". Said green bouncy head came in at $29.95. This is about one-tenth of what her friends' present spending comes to.
I should be rejoicing, decking the halls with all those saved $$$. Instead, I have to explain to everyone why this is all she wants. Doesn't that reiterate:
1) that little kids have no concept of monetary value and couldn't give a fudge if the presents under the tree cost $10 or $1000;
2) the only 'contest' to get the best pressie is between parents;
3) the simple things in life truly are the best, and we as a society are a bunch of greedy fat status-seekers;
4) spending bucketloads doesn't make you a better parent ("oh but I got her 5 DVD's and a swing set and a trampoline and an ipod. But geez I get annoyed when she asks me to read to her at bedtime, I'm too tired!";
5) we could learn alot from kids.

Some of her little buddies got 'big ticket' items like bikes or cubby houses "just because" earlier in the year. How are you mant to top that at Christmas? And how are you meant to keep that up - are they going to understand in a couple of years when you give up in a frazzled heap and just buy them a Barbie? No, most likely they are going to expect more, More, MORE. And we're training them to think like that.
I'm not a perfect parent. Both mine and my daughter's wardrobe is overflowing, we're not eco-friendly Earth Children by any means. Last year she got a bike and she loves it and it gets used pretty much everyday. She hasn't got a swing set or a trampoline (yet - should note here we also hardly have a backyard) or loads and loads of toys that never get used but that I can at least say she has, so she doesn't get 'left behind'. If a space hopper makes her happy, then that's good enough for me. And I shouldn't have to make excuses as to why that's all we bought her.

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