All that work, planning, buying and wrapping, came to a head a couple of days ago, where the majority of the excitement was over in a matter of minutes and my thoroughly spoilt children discarded most of their gifts, without a second glance and played in cardboard boxes for the rest of the day! We have always let them open everything on Christmas morning but in the past, when they were younger, this was fairly self-regulating as they would open something, play with it for a while and then need to be actively encouraged to open something else by us, eagerly awaiting, bystanders! Now, it’s like watching Velociraptors at feeding time, it’s absolute carnage, so much so that I’m seriously considering a major rethink about how we do it next year. When I was growing up, we opened the presents in our pillow-cases (we didn’t have stockings) that we had left by the fire-place and had to wait until after dinner to open the remaining gifts, under the tree. J opened everything in the morning, as a child and we chose, rightly or wrongly, to follow that tradition.
The kids didn’t actually get loads of toys or extravagant gifts, they had a main present each with the rest made up of clothes, books and practical items, things that I would have bought them anyway like new lunch boxes, drink bottles, stationary and toiletries. Other family members were also given specific ideas for presents to lessen the need for returning and exchanging. Gifting in the Urie house is organised, efficient and budgeted, boring yet effective! I simply despise waste and would hate a close family member to spend money on something for my kids that they wouldn’t use or like.
The Boy’s main present this year was a bike. We put it under a huge box, requiring us to lift and reveal the bike inside. The Boy loves his current bike and we expected a ‘wow’ moment when his new one was revealed, but he was so excited with the shear number of presents and madness of Christmas morning, he ran back to find his next present under the tree without even checking who the bike was from. J and I just looked at each other thinking ‘What have we created?’!! Don’t get me wrong, after the paper ripping frenzy, ‘thankyous’ were said, roller-skates were matched with PJ’s and appreciation was more apparent, but the question still remained – were the sheer number of presents really necessary? If I just stick to a few each next year, would the drop in number be really noticed, considered or remembered?
One thing that we have done for several years now, is to wrap up any joint gifts (arts and crafts, stationary, confectionary) and put them in a large box with balloons and then wrap the box. Not only is this gift cheap to do, it’s size has a real wow factor and the box provides hours of entertainment! We went one step further this year and got three boxes (one each) that fit inside each other like Russian dolls for easier storage. Our lounge has now been re-named ‘Boxtropolis’! Much to to children’s disappointment though, come the New Year, they will find their way to the recycling point, I’m afraid boxes really are not for life, just for Christmas!
I guess there is an element of expectation and a desire to make Christmas special, memorable and magical for our children but what do they really remember? Thinking about my own childhood, I couldn’t tell you what I got each year except for maybe some main presents. The memories are mainly of who we spent it with, where we went, what we did and funny situations that arose. No matter how I look at it however, there still seems to be a pressure to go crazy with presents at Christmas, even if that pressure is put on us voluntarily. It’s that one time of year where everyone is discussing what they are doing, buying and spending, how they are celebrating and we all want our family to have the best Christmas possible. While there’s nothing wrong with any of that, is it really necessary?
How was your Christmas? Do your children open everything on Christmas morning or do you spread it throughout the day? Do you go crazy with presents and regret it or is that what it’s all about? What are your Christmas day traditions?