Jenni - Mellow Baby
Why this is the first year I’ve bought Christmas presents for my kids
My kids are 6 and 5 and this is the first year that I have specifically bought them anything for Christmas. Now, that might sound mean and awful and that every year they are begging us for presents, except that they have no idea. They get SO MUCH stuff for Christmas from friends, aunties, uncles, grandparents, cousins, that they genuinely have no clue that there isn’t anything from Mom & Dad. And you know what? I buy them everything all the time. All the things that they need. All of the things.
Now, for full transparency, I have bought them some things that have been at Christmas time. My son is a bit of a wild man and rips his clothes on the daily so believe me when I say if he needs new trousers in December, we get them for him. My daughter is growing like a weed and if she needs more socks and tops in December, yeah, we get them. We are not trying to deprive them of anything over here, we are trying to not make them materialistic assholes, which, even with this lack of Christmas gifts, I feel like I am massively failing at every single day. I also don’t want my husband and I to double our spend in December and then spend the whole first half of the New Year on the back foot making up for it.
We certainly live in a ‘have now’ society. Remember when you really wanted something and you had to save up all your money for months? Remember when new winter boots was something that you put on your Christmas list and had to wait and ask Santa for? Yeah, me neither. I think that my parents’ generation and when the Boomers had kids of their own they wanted to indulge them a little bit because they never got indulged as children. This was done with the best of intentions at the time but it has carried us into our current ‘have it all’ culture. Where we are less and less appreciative of what we already have.
Years ago, when my son was about to have his first Christmas as a cheery 11-month old, I was chatting with a friend of mine (who is an awesome Mama to 3 kids who are all older than mine). We chatted about our lives, and because it was close to Christmas, the conversation turned to; ‘what are you getting your kids for Christmas’?
I said, ‘I know this sounds bad, but I didn’t get him anything. He is essentially a potato and he doesn’t know anything about Christmas and we have had such an expensive year with a new baby and me having a year off work (I definitely felt like I had to completely justify my choice, even though my friend is awesome and I totally didn’t have to).
My friend was like; ‘oh yeah, definitely don’t get him anything. I wish I didn’t get my kids anything. Honestly, I wish I didn’t get them anything until they were much, much older. They get so much stuff and by boxing day they don’t even remember who got them what.
I was initially planning on just skipping the first year, but what my friend said had really intrigued me. They don’t even know, they have no fucking clue and here I am feeling guilty about not buying an 11-month-old gift that he doesn’t even want, know about or remember! Fuck that. I decided then and there to not specifically buy him anything, and when my daughter came along, same for her. She was born in October, so she was in full-on potato mode and didn’t even know day from night yet.
Fast-forward me spending the next 6 years essentially doing the same thing. And guess what? THEY HAVE NEVER NOTICED AND HAVE NO IDEA. I think I may have gone to the Dollarstore and got the odd item for their stocking if I felt like it, and if I thought it was something they might like, need, use or appreciate.
I’m not a complete scrooge, I love Christmas. The decorations, the spirit of the season, the snow, the family time, it’s all great! Putting up your Christmas decorations in October? Nice, love it. Putting your tree up on Nov 1st? Excellent, go for it.
I am also in the very privileged position that my family loves to get them gifts. I think if it was just us, and my kids were waking up to an empty stocking and no gifts under the tree I may have changed things up a bit. But they are very fortunate to have extended family members that don’t get them things throughout the year so they like to get them a few gifts at Christmas time, and that is fab. So, my family members get gifts for my kids, because they want to. That is the crux. If they want to pick them up a few things, that is amazing. If they don’t want to that is also amazing and I try not to have any expectations on them.
Because I run a ‘Mom & Baby’ Business I am in lots of Mom groups on Facebook and I am constantly seeing messages like, ‘what can I get my son for Christmas’? (cue picture of adorable potato) and my suggestion is this…nothing. Give them your love, cuddles and time and that’s all they really want or know about, anyway and save up for things that you need and get them when they are required. Because we all know having a baby is hella expensive, and you only find out later that you need 3 strollers and 2 different kinds of car seats!
You have your whole life to give them gifts and you don’t have to do it ‘Because it’s Christmas’ you can do it because you want to, or you are thinking of them, and if that happens to be because you want to get them Christmas gifts then that is awesome! I am just telling you all my own story, no judgement over here Mama!
Some people take great joy in it, but it is that joy that is so important to remember as you are trudging through the mall on Dec 23rd, do you want to be doing this? Or do you feel like you have to? I got my kiddos are few things this year and I quite enjoyed it. I picked things that I knew they would love and I planned it all out. Especially since this is my first jump back into a few gifts I wanted to feel good about it. I didn’t want that weight of expectation placed heavily back on my shoulders. And I didn’t feel that way. I felt excited about them opening things that they would enjoy, and I felt good!
So as this Christmas season nears just try to do what you want and not put pressure on yourself because one of your friends got their kid a pony, or your mother-in-law keeps telling you how special their first Christmas is and how they remember it forever (except they don’t, because they are potatoes). So, live your life, do what you want, fuck expectations and being in debt, at Christmas time and always!