Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Three Christmases

It must take a while for parents to establish a Christmas equilibrium. When you go from grandparents' house to grandparents' house during or after the holidays, the kids end up having more than one gift-receiving smorgasbord. So how do you calibrate your own provision for their Christmas morning in light of the fact that they're going to have more later?

A couple of weeks ago, we realized that since we were seeing all sides of the family during the holidays, only our own gifts were going to be under the tree here in Conway. It's the first time this has happened, strangely enough; at every other Christmas, one set of grandparents or the other -- sometimes both! -- have shipped their gifts here and been a part of our own December 25.

What that means is that suddenly the pile of presents under the tree has shrunk by a factor of about 50%. And how have we responded? Predictably, by buying more than we had planned so that our Christmas morning will be as bountiful as ... we thought it should be. Because our kids certainly have no expectations. It's all about our perception of generosity and bountifulness, as parents.

In the end, the kids will have a nice sized Christmas on the day in question, then a couple more on a slightly smaller scale during the following week. Maybe 125% of a usual year's haul. And it's nobody's fault but ours. Luckily, our kids are not the type to worry and whine about what they don't have, nor to hoard and whine about what they do have. Even if we're doing our best to make unsatisfied little consumers out of them with our own insecurities about Christmas, I have confidence that their personalities will remain sunny and their outlook will remain optimistic.

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