A Pared Down Holiday

Posted By on December 3, 2009

I stumbled across a statistic in a Time magazine article on helicopter parenting. In the article, it said the average child has 150 toys! I don’t think my brother, sister and I had that many toys between us. When I look at the bedrooms of my nieces and nephews, I’m not that surprised.

During Thanksgiving, one of my friends told me how his cousin was spending the holiday weekend by taking her young children to an amusement park. The cousin had read that children ages 8 to 10 couldn’t recall what they received for Christmas last year but they remember trips with their parents. The cousin and her husband decided to pare down the number of Christmas presents for the children and take them to the amusement instead. To test this, I asked my own 10-year-old niece what she got for Christmas last year. She only remembered two items out of her entire take last year. She remembered more after nudging from Grandma. Her two teen-age siblings remembered what they got last year.

Between learning about these statistics and thinking about the state of the economy, I remembered back to a particular Christmas in my childhood. My dad had been laid off, and money was tight. Mom and Dad told us that Santa had to cut back that Christmas because of money. The three of us kids nodded and didn’t seem to nonplussed. We didn’t have a Christmas tree that year but used our small aluminum tree that we kids loved because it was shiny and different. On Christmas morning, we had a few presents under the tiny tree, but we kids didn’t feel cheated or shorted by Santa. I remember getting a doll and a couple of other trinkets. To me, it was a great Christmas.

I listened my niece talk about how much she wanted the popular and sold out Zhu Zhu hamsters and this and that. She loves to open presents so I have an idea. I bought some tiny stackable boxes from The Container Store, and I plan to make up a scavenger hunt for her to find her presents. If you make it fun, maybe she won’t notice that there a couple less this year.

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