Christmas Fudge
The girls, last Christmas, making fudge. Those were the days ...

We've entered a new era around here, folks. As in, my eldest came downstairs today trying to pin me down on precise numbers for Santa's budget for her Christmas gifts so she could manage her requests accordingly.

What the???

It all started with a suggestion that Santa should probably take advantage of Cyber Monday deals on some super-expensive headphones she wants for Christmas. (I should point out I don't think I've ever seen her use headphones unless we are travelling.) Then she made three more rapid-fire requests, each one landing well over the $100 per item mark.

What the???

"Are you comfortable not having very many gifts under the tree? Because I totaled up about $500 worth of goods before you got three-deep in that series," I said.

"Well, how bout you let me know what Santa plans to spend and we'll go from there," she said.

"How bout I buy you a one-way ticket on the Polar Freaking Express to Siberia and we go from there?"  I said.

Not really, though I was sorely tempted. Instead I explained it was extremely bad manners to request what equates to an Excel spreadsheet from Santa, that she needed to refocus on the reason for the season, think about the giving versus the receiving, etc, etc.

Here's the thing: we've always gotten one or two "big ticket" items for the girls, then an assortment of less expensive items. I like to throw in something completely unexpected that they didn't think to ask for, and then lots of little, inexpensive stuff like earrings and lotion that smells like odd mixtures of lilacs and coconuts and such. The point is I like to stretch out that unwrapping and excitement and merriment and no one is fighting time for at least 15 minutes or so. So I'm trying to work out how to make that last as they get older and want more expensive, but fewer, items.

Tell me: how do you manage your kids' expectations during the Christmas season? And how do you balance that with your expectations for what that morning should bring? I read an article a while back about a family that gets a big family trip to a new destination every Christmas, and all their gifts are for the trip (so, ski clothes for a vacation to Colorado, surfboards for Maui, etc.) ... do you have any gift-giving traditions you'd like to share? 


Hena Tayeb said...

I wish I had words of wisdom for you but we don't celebrate Christmas. I like your concept of one ticket item along with a variety of more inexpensive gifts. While I do like getting what I wanted but what I love even more in a gift is the surprise of receiving something I love but hadn't thought of. Something personal, sentimental and special.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think your kids are a little further along than my son is. He's only 6 and is very open about everything he wants. Typically my wife and I create an Amazon list with the (reasonable) things he wants, along with some other items we think he might enjoy. We share the list with key relatives.

My son is very slowly starting to accept that he won't get everything he wants, despite being an only child with some very generous grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

I'm not looking forward to when he's a little older. He's already a determined and skilled negotiator with a head for numbers.

--Ben P.

Amy Mac said...

Hena -- I so agree! There are few things more pleasant than knowing someone put the effort into really thinking about a gift that will bring you joy ... before you've even thought of it. Thanks for your insight!

Amy Mac said...

Ben: I so miss those 6-year-old days. We could make Christmas happen with very little expenditure because you can purchase 1 zillion Barbie items for less than $100. It was awesome. You're lucky, because my understanding is boys tend to keep score less (ie, well NICK got his own home theater is his ROOM, etc) than girls, though you might want to practice familiarizing yourself with the phrase "Well, lucky NICK, but that's not how we roll 'round here..."