Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mel’s Show and Tell — I’m a Grinch

I hope I don’t offend anyone, but I’ve got a bit of a rant here. The economy is in the toilet. Jobs are not secure. Yet I see the same excess as years past. Often with people who can ill afford it. One of the secretaries at my office has been having big packages of gifts for her extended family delivered all week. I know she has a lot of credit card debt. But it’s Christmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!!! She received one box from a children’s clothing store, that had over 10 outfits for her 2 year old niece. Even if it was all on sale, why so much? How do you teach a child to appreciate the thought that went into choosing a gift when there are soooooo many?

I know it’s taboo for a childless person to criticize parents, but I have some parent bloggers on my blog roll who I don’t believe act this way.

My ex’s brother and SIL, for example, just don’t say no to their 2 boys. Their sense of entitlement is off the charts. Last year at Christmas ex’s sister decided (I’m sure at the urging of her husband) that her constant gifts to her nephews were not appreciated. So she scaled back. She got them some beautiful books. The 4 year old had a screaming, crying tantrum, because Aunt L got him “Just a book!!”

Please tell me internets, it’s not my holiday, so maybe I’m missing something, but where’s the spirit of Christmas in that?

Don’t get me wrong, I love giving and receiving gifts. I love choosing something special for someone and seeing their expression when I get it right. I don’t buy many gifts for my 10 year old niece, because, quite frankly, I think my gifts get lost in the piles of stuff she has. I also want her to be glad to see me without looking for a gift. When she was about 3 or 4 I took the train to visit (they live about an hour by commuter train from me), when I got in my sister’s car after getting off the train, my niece asked what I brought her. She’d never done that before. I looked her in the eyes and said, “You have all my love. What else do you need?” She grinned and said, “Oh, okay. I love you, too.” She never did it again.

I wonder, internets, do you think the overindulgers are trying to fill something in themselves?

Okay, so after all that telling, let me show you something. That's not, IMHO, overindulgent. Here’s one of The June Bride’s darling fleece hats.

For a chance to win a custom made infant or toddler hat in your choice of color (and pitch in for a wonderful cause) please check out this post.

Don't forget to check out what the rest of the class is showing this week.


Mo said...


I think you're right on about the economy and about overindulgence by some parents and family members. I have a patient who really believes that his nephews and neices only value him when he spends a lot on him. Which is just sad. I've been trying to help him see that HE is the one giving the message that that is his only value. If he felt better about his own worth, he could send another message - that what they need are his time and attention.

That said, I'm another childless person, so what do I know? By the time we actually get a child, should we be so lucky we probably won't have enough money left to overindulge even if we wanted to : )


Michelle said...

I know exactly what you are saying and I agree. In our family this year except for the kids we all decided to donate to charities in the others name. We chose individual charities that mean something to the other person. I think it was a great idea.

Bella said...

I agree, it's excessive. This is why kids are asking for huge video game systems, computers, TVs, etc. becasue they know they WILL get them. It's not the kids' fault, they've obvious learned it from someone. I know parents want to make thier kids happy, but they also need to be taught to apreciate what they have and the girfts they do get. Otherwise, it sets them up for a lifetime of wanting. Listen to me, like I have a clue, I don't have kids. I'm sure one day I'll think I way better "parent" before I had kids. I need to write myself advise now. LOL.

Malky B. said...

I agree. What really put things into perspective this week - a book my daughter is doing a book report on. It's from the colonial times. The girl had only one dress that was too small on her and her parents couldn't find the $ to buy her a new one. Her parents were contemplating having to sell a cow to buy her a dress. Sure puts things into perspective.


Deb said...

I have seen some insane gifting in the last few years, at least in MHO. DH and I have had several conversations on what we would do and how we would handle the questions if we ever are blessed to have children. I can't fathom buying 50+ presents for one child and not have really any of them be things that they need. I can't fathom spending $200+ on one gift for a child under 13... probably even older than that. I just don't get it.

We have opted, for the parents that will let us and appreciate it, giving money to the kids college funds or buying bonds. However, some parents in our family circle do not appreciate that gesture and have actually told us to buy their kids gifts instead. We always buy a book or small toy so that there is something to open but they still didn't want their kids just getting that. Personally, most of the children around us, have more things than they will ever need. Even those that are considered to be in need by the rest of the family. There is just too much emphasis on stuff lately.

Niki said...

Dora, I could go on and on about the excess and overindulgence of Americans, but I won't. I work at a high school where I teach the kids of many of the affluent in my community and they exemplify the type of entitlement you speak of. I can not even believe the types of gifts they get for Christmas. It's absolutely insane and then they complain about what they wanted, but didn't get! Blech! Then on the opposite end of the spectrum I have the Hmong and Mexican immigrants who get nothing. That's sad too.

Both mine and J's families decided to do a name exchange this year, so we had very little to buy. I suggested that we buy for a needy family instead of buying so much for each other. Everyone seemed pleased with this option. We "adopted" a needy Hmong family in my community and I feel so good for giving them a Christmas to remember!

AnotherDreamer said...

I've seen a lot of people spending way too much on gifts... and I agree with you. But as another childless IF... what do I know, right?

I am only buying presents for my nieces and nephews this year. I spend the same amount on them each year for x-mas, no matter what. I coincidentally also spend that same amount of each of them for their birthdays.

All the adults are just getting cookies, ha ha ha.

Cara said...

Oh Dora - my love for you just grows by the day. You wrote this so perfectly. Did you see my post with the same idea? I think a rant would have been more effective. Anyway, to answer your question...

Yes! I think the overindulgence gets passed from generation to generation until it becomes an expectation. And - regardless of how much you have in the bank that year - you are expected to put Rockafellar under the tree.

Wanna know a secret? Remember the girl's lists I posted? They are only four items deep, so reaonable (especially with The Comedian's taste in gifts) - but we are intentionally NOT giving them one item, to promote being grateful for what they DO get.

battynurse said...

I think people go way over board too but it's even worse now with the economy. I remember years ago a child my family knew who was given so many gifts at christmas he had to start opening them days before hand.
As far as spending with the current economy? Doesn't make much sense.

Anonymous said...

I also feel that the amount of gifts that my children received during the holidays borders on the obscene.

I too scaled Christmas back some this year. We sponsered a needy family instead and made some other donations to worthwhile charities.

Each of my neices and nephews got 2 gifts each. A toy and an outfit.

Christmas is about more important messages than the gifts you receive. Teaching that to our children should be a top priority.

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

DH and I had to go to Best Buy this weekend (no really, we had to -- needed to buy a part to salvage data from the destroyed laptop) and I had the exact same thought about the economy. Despite most people saying they are strapped for cash, the store was filled with crazed shoppers (and the parking lot of the adjacent mall was insane). I thought to myself that not in spite of but because of the bad economy, people would be spending more than they should, since it's "only once a year."

All of our family holiday celebrations have been derailed for various reasons this year, and we've decided to forego the gift exchange entirely. Instead, we're doing a "buy your own damn present" gift exchange -- if you want something, buy it. Present #1: replacement laptop!

Kristin said...

You are absolutely right about the overindulgence. I think there is a lot of value in scaling down the holidays.

Beautiful Mess said...

I totally agree with you about overindulgence. My niece got a NICE camera for Christmas last year and has no idea where it is. This isn't the first time she's lost it either. I understand that children can be careless, but she didn't even CARE that she lost it! So, no you are not alone in your feelings!
Enjoy your day,
- *ICLW*

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

I agree 100% .I think there is too much overindulgence by many people and on Credit ...I am a Grinch too.

At 2 yrs the child can't possible understand why she has so many gifts - so why bother.

Merry Christmas

Here from ICLW...No. 88
My Little Drummer Boys

Kara said...

You have pegged it. I think the excessiveness is going to be reflected in future spending for years to come. I hope it changes.

We have had to set down a lot of ground rules to get family (and ourselves) out of the spend, spend spend mode. It can be done though.

Our rule - Kids under 10 get gifts (usually books or an educational toy) and everyone else gets a family gift - usually homemade salsa and chips or baked goods wrapped up in a dish towel. I hate seeing wrapping paper scattered everywhere. Who can't use a dish towel?

We do purchase presents for our parents and my brother + family.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you worded this SO well!!! It's hard not to be critical as an infertile with no kids, but sometimes I want to wring people's necks!!!

I know I shouldn't speak, but I want to teach my kids to appreciate what they have and to LEARN from their toys. I love my nephews to pieces and I love to spoil them, but this year we scaled way back for these same reasons. They have so many toys that ours will just be forgotten three days after Christmas anyway.

I think it's definitely fulfilling something of the parents' when they have to overindulge for their children. That being said, I have no idea how I will be as a parent when it actually happens. But I hope that I spend more money on books than I do on trendy gifts that will last a month. I hope that my kids enjoy learning and that I can teach them to appreciate gifts.

Well said...and thanks! that was a good vent!!


Nikki said...

Well said Dora - some people need to have a reality check of things in life. There are horror stories of the unemployment rates and the economy going south and everything else, yet the malls and stores are FULL of people with this glazed shopaholic look in their eyes. I mean, priorities, people!!

Materialism is so rampant in the society today, that a gesture or a thought can immediately get minimized by "It's JUST a book" type of reaction!

BTW - I have a blog award for you on my blog. Check it out!

Sam said...

I couldn't agree more! I do think that we NEED to spend in order to stimulate the economy again, BUT there are still limits, we should only spend what we can afford and at the same time teach children that they cannot have everything that they want and it is greedy to keep asking and expecting more.

I will happily buy the odd extra surprise present but do not expect that present to be expected. If you see what I am trying to get at here!!

Merry Christmas! said...

Accurate Observation Dora! Even if the economy was not in the dumps, it would not still have qualified as the apt reason to have a gift overload. 10 clothes for a 2 year old? Great! How many days would she possibly be able to wear them. I always do carry gifts for my SIL's daughter, but am always conscious about what the little girl may not have yet (a cuddly doll was last present). Children are not stupid. Their love cannot be bought by sloshing them with gifts....And if they start hankering at people not bringing them 'enough' gifts, maybe they are not learning the right values!

Anonymous said...

You are right on over indulgence. And I am guilty of it this year. I just gave my Friend's kids a DVD player for Christmas for their little play theater. One said, "Thank you!"... the other, "We have to share?"

Here from ICLW...No. 87
The Unfair Struggle said...

Hiyas Dora! Hope you are enjoying Christmas!

I got an award to give..and I am giving it to you...Pick it up at

lostintranslation said...

I totally agree with you. I think often the gifts are even better if you have to be a bit creative and work with a smaller budget.
Merry Christmas! *ICLW*