Guest Blog - The guilt and thrill of consumption
Author -- Asa Burlin
Another Christmas. As a parent to a child old enough to appreciate toys and presents, but too young to expect them, I struggle a bit with the tradition of -not necessarily giving- but buying, presents.
On the one hand, I think it’s pretty normal to want your children to have childhood experiences and memories similar to those you have yourself. I was f-ing pumped for Christmas presents as a kid. I vividly remember one year when I was maybe 6 years old and my grandfather received a mere three gifts total from Santa. He seemed perfectly happy, but I remember thinking that that must be the ultimate heartache, that he was so stoic for hiding his misery so well. Three gifts! If I’m ever content with just three gifts, please let the Grinch put me out of my misery… I reasoned as a, clearly spoiled, young child in love with getting gifts. And now I definitely find joy in giving, not just my child, but mostly her, presents to open and gawk at.
On the other hand, as a parent you have the opportunity make new traditions. Because our daughter is mutt, we did Swedish Christmas with Santa knocking on the door on Christmas Eve, then woke up on Christmas Day to find he had been snooping around leaving stuff during the night too. As a result, she wondered where the heck Santa was on the 26th. (when he was no-show she decided he must be sick)
She got some really nice stuff. But at least most of it was hand-me downs.
Dylan and I had decided not to give each other gifts. I didn’t get him anything. He got me something. It was a nice gift and I was happy. And I felt guilty because I didn’t also break the agreement.
(For the record here, this is how that conversation went a couple of weeks earlier….
D: so what do you want to do about gifts for each other?
Å: I don’t feel like we need to do any, unless you really want to?
D: no I don’t, I just don’t want you to be all “oh, you didn’t get me anything, oh you forgot our anniversary”
Å: you did forget our anniversary…
D: I know.
Å: ok, so no gifts?
D: cool. )
I was appalled to learn stores now start the sale on Christmas day. Still I’m having a hard time not wanting to go check out the deals.
When I first learned our child was to be born right around Christmas, I was sad for him/her having to have a birthday so close to Christmas. Now we’re trying to set a tradition of making her day exciting and special without gifts. As she gets older, our hope is that she’ll enjoy thinking of fun activities to do with the family, and later when that’s not cool anymore, her friends.
Little things I guess, we try to do to set the tone. To find the Christmas thrill in other things than buying stuff.