Too Many Christmas Presents
Watching little kids tear through wrapping paper and squeal in delight on Christmas morning should be magical.
Instead, it’s unnerving to watch them eye up the next present before they’ve had a moment to appreciate the one in front of them.
The act of opening presents has become more meaningful than the actual gifts. Dudley Dursley flipped his shit when he didn’t receive 37 presents on his birthday to beat the 36 presents he received the previous year. It didn’t matter what was inside the wrapping paper. He valued quantity over quality.
This is not unique to Dudley Dursley. This is many kids, everywhere. I used to think, “Wow, these kids are brats. They don’t even say thank you! They don’t appreciate any of these gifts!” But it’s not their fault. We keep throwing more and more presents at them.
My husband and I don’t want our son to turn into a Dudley Dursley. So before he was even born we let his grandparents know: less gifts. Please don’t overdo it.
On Christmas day we sat down to open presents. It was overwhelming. We wanted to be appreciative and grateful. At the same time, it was too much.
We FaceTimed my sister-in-law Jenny, her husband, and two kids. Jenny said, “They got so many presents.” My mother-in-law, Jan, responded, “Well, that’s what Christmas is all about!”
That is NOT what Christmas is all about.
I know Jan doesn’t really think it’s about presents. It’s about being with loved ones and showing each other kindness, generosity, love, and appreciation. Giving thoughtful gifts is one way to demonstrate these beautiful qualities. But it's not the only way. And when it becomes more about the quantity of gifts, it undermines the entire essence of Christmas spirit.
We’re concerned that our son could become spoiled and ungrateful. That he could equate how much they love him with how many presents they give him. But all Jan sees are happy grandkids. And that makes her happy.
Thankfully, George is only 4 months old and could barely grip the wrapping paper. There’s still time to right this ship.
A fellow parent comforted me. “It’s a multi-year process,” he said.
We can’t expect our parents to suddenly change their ways on the first pass. It will happen over time. We have to be patient.
We have a few years to show George what Christmas really means: quality time. Time spent with loved ones. Time spent showing kindness and generosity to others. Time spent enjoying holiday traditions.
And by then, hopefully, we’ll all be on the same page with the grandparents. A few gifts, much appreciation, lots of gratitude, and so much love.