Have Our Overindulged Kids Lost The Christmas Wow Factor?

Perhaps excessive gift-giving isn't such a good thing after all.

With only a couple of weeks left until Christmas, the stores are packed with eager shoppers bustling through the aisles in hopes of crossing off all of the items on their lists.

Don’t hate, but I can proudly boast that my list is now complete. However, I did get a jumpstart on my shopping this year, buying things as I saw them or when they were on sale. Sure, I am done a few weeks early, but my credit card is not happy with me.

You see the problem with buying early is that you sort of forget what you have. You know, the way you hurry home and tuck things away in a closet so they are hidden from curious little minds and your husbands questioning glare? Only trouble is, you tuck things away so well, you forget you have them which causes you to buy more.

I have my mother to blame for this as she taught me all about the Boxing Day sales, where we would get up extra early and hurry off to buy all of the discounted stuff that we could use as gifts next year, or things like cards and wrapping paper which were always super discounted the day after Christmas. The problem though is that rather than being frugal, you end up buying more than you wanted to as again you tuck it away and forget that you have it.

My second problem when it comes to shopping is Black Friday. I am one of those crazy ladies who heads across the border with a group of friends every year and literally shopped all night long. Don't even get me started on the couponing... not only were things on sale, Americans actually let you use coupon upon coupon on top of the discounts. So when you can get a name brand sweater for around fifteen dollars, why not buy one in every colour right?!

Now I might love to shop, and I love the look on someone’s face when they open a gift that they absolutely love, but this year I am questioning the whole thing and wondering when enough is enough.

As a child I remember spending a good few months before Christmas looking in stores, going through Wish Books and catalogs in search of that one magical gift that Santa would bring for me. Yes, at our house Santa only brought one gift. It made it special and the story my parents shared was that Santa’s sleigh had to fit enough toys for children all over the world so one toy for each child was enough. Today, as a parent myself I appreciate that. Kids talk, and if one child is getting 15 gifts from Santa and someone else only one, how do you explain that? We all want to keep the magic alive as long as we can.

I remember Christmas morning, running down the stairs and squealing when I saw that Santa had left that one perfect gift, fully assembled in my living room. I was over the moon, on cloud nine, and it was hands down the best moment of my life, every year.

But now with children having so much, I wonder if that wow factor is gone. 

We did make my daughter squeal two years ago when she tiptoed down the stairs and saw that magical unicorn with the light up horn, and it brought tears to our eyes just to see the look on her face. She adored it, she cuddled it, she loved it—and then a few hours later she was on to the next thing.

I have been at Christmas parties where the children just tear through the gifts, not evening noting who they came from or taking the time to go and say thank you to the person who graciously gave it to them. They just rip through the paper and boxes, maybe letting out the occasional ‘wow' or ‘neat’, and then move on to the next. It’s like they have so much that they don't really know what they want.

We have tried to teach our daughter to be humble and kind, instructing her from a young age to always go and give hugs and say thank you. As she has gotten older we have told her that even if she might not like something (a gift that people have gone to a lot of trouble to pick out for her and spent money they worked hard for on), she always needs to say thank you and be considerate of the thought that went into it.

I think we have done a pretty good job on that, but the quantity of what she receives is something we can’t control and this year that is playing on my mind.

As her mom, I might have six identical sweaters in different colours, but I’m old enough to understand that that is excessive. I want the holidays to mean more than maxed out credit cards and piles of gifts.

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