Friday, January 2, 2015

Too Many Toys?

I recently read that parents should consider not giving their children toys over the holidays. There are a lot of articles floating around about taking away most of the toys and asking relatives to give kids experiences instead of toys.  I’ll admit that there are times I’d like to walk down the hallway without stepping on a plastic dinosaur. I’ll also concede that there is no way he can play with all of his toys on a daily basis, probably not even a weekly basis.
After careful consideration, I've decided I’m not going to change. I’m not going to quit doing Santa. I’m not going to put a cute note in his birthday party invitations suggesting that people give him experiences instead.  I've thought about it a lot and I think I've got some pretty good reasons why.

 "Experiences” are great and he’ll get things he “needs” too, but …

He’s too young to understand that a ticket to the zoo means we are going to get to see the giraffes he’s so obsessed with.   Sure, I could explain it to him, but doesn't that seem like have to explain the punch line of a joke? Besides, he’s not going to get anywhere nearly as excited about a future trip to see giraffes as he will about a giant plastic giraffe. 
Asking my parents to give us an “experience” is a bit like asking them to give me a present because I’ll be the one that gets to see his face light up when we arrive at the zoo. They will totally miss out on his “present face” and probably get treated to a tantrum when he realizes that the trip to the zoo I’m mentioning is not happening at that very second.

 I’m grateful that people love my kid.

Our parents really love our son a lot. All the friends at his birthday party do too. They all love him so much that they really thought about what to get him. They didn't go to the store and spend their hard earned money on random crap.  They tried to think about things he would really love.  Many of the gifts he got were based on things they know my son loves or memories they have shared with him.  I’m so grateful that they all love him enough to do that. I would never want to seem ungrateful or callous by suggesting they not show their love in that way. It’s their love language and I respect that.
I know what you’re thinking; I’m just blessed to be surrounded by such great gift givers. While some of his presents were right on the money, let me assure you there were some gifts that totally missed the mark too.  Getting the perfect gift wasn't the point.  It was about showing their love for my son in a way that they chose, not in a way that I mandated or even suggested.

I’m naive enough to believe that two days of excess [Christmas and his birthday] aren't going to turn my child into a shallow materialistic jerk.

We spend 363 days of the year teaching our son that giving is more important than receiving. He learns this when he shares his toys, gives money at Church and to charity, and in a variety of other ways all year long.  We focus on teaching him to have manners, charity, and character.  If two days of excess can ruin a person for the year, I’m in big trouble when it comes to my plate at Thanksgiving and Christmas!