In general I consider myself quite lucky and blessed. I received a room full of gifts at my baby shower, my mom purchased the crib for my son and other than a new dresser and car seat my husband and I have bought very few things for our little bundle of joy.
A friend of mine provided me with two large car loads of hand-me-downs when my son turned six months and another load this past week. All in all she gave me at least ten diaper boxes full of clothes, toys, books and games and the corner of our living room now looks like a small toy store.
When my family asked for Christmas ideas for my son I told them he had more than enough stuff for the time being. Instead of traditional presents I asked for the gift of time. I also asked them to contribute to his 529 or to purchase savings bonds if they still felt the need to spend money.
When my niece and nephew were small my husband and I gave them a savings bond for Christmas and for each of their first five birthdays. We also bought them a small gift, usually less than $10 or $15, so we could watch their excitement at ripping wrapping paper off boxes.
I’m a very traditional and practical gal, so I never thought much about it. Their play room was already filled to the brim with gifts they never touched and for every special occasion their grandparents and other aunts and uncles gave them boat loads of presents. The way I saw it our approach to gift giving certainly wasn’t traumatizing them.
I liked the idea of giving them something that they’ll use in the future. I remember cashing out a bunch of savings bonds when I graduated from college. I was so excited to have the money in hand and so in need of a little extra cash back then.
I expected my family to see my point of view. To realize that my son really doesn’t need anything right now and that he’ll actually appreciate the gift much more in the future.
While some members certainly understood my desire others seemed to struggle with the concept. They want to give my son a gift and watch his eyes light up as he opens the box and reaches in for the toy.
I could tell my mom really wanted to buy my son something despite my wishes. “It’s Christmas”, she said, “he should open gifts and be excited.” I could tell she was disappointed by my request to put the money away for a rainy day. She thought I was being rather scrooge-like and didn’t think practicality and Christmas belonged in the same room together.
Although I see a lot of value in putting the money aside, (believe me he’ll be thrilled with that money later in his life), I certainly see her point of view. I’m not sure where we’ll put the new toys, but I have a feeling he’ll find quite a few under my parent’s Christmas tree.