Wednesday, October 22, 2008

To buy or not to buy...that is the question

I have many inner is materialism vs. minimalism. Honestly, I don't "need" more STUFF in my life. Stuff that clutters up my house and eventually causes me choose between putting it in a landfill or passing it on to someone else to clutter up their house.

So that brings me to...Christmas. I've started doing a little Christmas shopping, in an attempt to spread out the financial crisis that always follows. And I'm questioning my actions. I love Christmas presents. It was the one time of year that my frugal parents loosened up...a little. We all got multiple gifts. :) Yeah, occasionally my dad would wrap up library books (that needed to be returned in 2 weeks) and various grocery items we needed. But we always got several things we asked for. :) It was wonderful. Now that I am older and know a thing or two more about the world, and am having to make these decisions for my own kids...I'm torn. Do I buy my kids lots of stuff for Christmas for the pure joy of being surrounded by gifts? Or do I take the minimalist approach and limit the purchases to only a thing or two? How many presents is "too many" and how few is "not enough"?

Oh, how I still remember and love that feeling of being surrounded by new gifts and having all day to play with them. :)


The Fearless Freak said...

In the past we've done bunches of small gifts. This year we are doing one BIG gift and one or two small things. We desperaely need a new family computer. RF and I both have laptops but neither of us want the kids using them. They are getting to the age were they are asking to play computer games and my wheezy old desktop isn't capable of running the games they want to play (like game on, nothing heavy, which makes it even worse) so we are buying them a computer for Xmas. Then we will get them each a couple of smaller things to open plus stocking stuff. All in all, I plan to spend less than $500, of which the computer will eat up nearly half.

good luck figuring out what to do for your crew :)

Looseyfur said...

Mmm, we mix it up at our place. Last year Santa brought one big gift for X-man (his train set) and then a few little things (mostly matchbox cars) in his stocking. Then Joel and I got him a couple of books and a medium size gift. Total, he got like: 9 presents from Santa or us.

And yes, I do Santa. I fail to see how using someone who reminds us to be nice to one another and peaceful is a bad idea... even though he is just a myth.

Anyway, we focus on one solid thing the kid will love. This year it's a work bench. Then we got some Bob the Builder figurines to put in his stocking. Then Joel and I got him two books and a puzzle and a small keyboard. Total gifts from us: Eight.

It's minimal -- but effective. Plus, then all that other stuff comes from the family...

Quigs78 said...

My family always goes overboard, and the kids aren't yet old enough to get the materialism of it all. So we get less than ten presents for each (and last year, PG was only 5 months old, so sleepers and teething rings counted as gifts) and they're completely satisfied with that.

I'm sure we'll have to deal with the Jones's kids later, but for now, the budget rules.

~rachel~ said...

We are doing very minimal. I want them to have memorable Christmas' but don't want a bunch of crap that they only want to play with a few times. We've already decided no plastic toys with batteries! Santa brings a small unwrapped toy and does the stockings (how my mom even STILL does the santa thing), and our gifts are wrapped.
As soon as Rowan gets the concept (maybe this year) we are going to have him buy a gift for the angel tree so he gets the whole giving thing. My mom, I mean Santa, has always made our stockings very personalized so that is what I've looked forward to the most. I want our memories to be more family related like baking cookies together not presents.

Anonymous said...

Sister Rebecca here...Mom of 4 yr old twin boys
Just returned from CA and a week with my in laws and several trips to Toys r US and other stores so I have really been face to face with this issue!

Major contrast between our family and the in laws. I think I fall somewhere in between the two.

I want the childhood memories of my boys to be planted in a love of nature and an appreciation of the magnificent planet on which we live. For me, that means they toys and games they play with should in some way encourage that.

As for my childhood, I remember looking on the back of milk weeds for a chrysyliss, running through the fields, climbing trees, baby bunnies and kittens. I don't have many memories of anything purchased at a store.

So how do I merry that with the fact that my boys are growing up in a subdivision with lines of tract homes and sidewalks!

I've resisted organized sports so far, but that is coming soon...We ripped out a bed of landscapted plantings and grew of own tomatoes this year. We built a wooden sand box, and we pretty much let the kids dig holes in the chipped dirt areas and make mud pies where ever.

Life is so full of fantastic machines and brilliant creations for the 4 yr old boy mind to discover! How and airplane flies, the sound of a train whistle, the creatures of the ocean, the soft black fur and the wet nose of our dog. I just try to create and environment where they can discover the mysteries of these things--be it through a plastic whale they float in the bath tub or a wooden instrument or through stories of my childhood.

We have way too much junk and I want to throw 80% of it in the garbage cans every time I trip over it...But no matter how much or how little the important thing to me is instilling an admiration for the real and authentic and amazing things in life and encouraging the desire to want to discover more. Read more, observe more, pay attention, and appreciate more. And I told my inlaws no Wii system this Christmas.

Lavender Lemonade said...

You guys are so wise. Thanks for the comments. I will try to err on the side of moderation and hope that my kids walk away feeling that the BIG event isn't just about how many gifts they got.