It’s that time of year that I know families are faced with the question Do We Need Or Want Christmas Gifts? So many people really need food on the table, shoes, and coats for their kids and a warm place to sleep. We see television commercials with every electronic device known to man and it appears that we all need one or more. There are 7-inch to 9-inch Ipads, Kindles, fancy smartphones, tablets and more. When I go to Costco I see televisions as big as a closet or the size of a small car. I have to laugh because I don’t have a car big enough to bring one of those babies home to install on the wall!
Everywhere we turn there are advertisements to buy this item or that item. How can we slow down the wants for Christmas gifts?
Christmas Stockings and Christmas Gifts
I remember years ago when my daughters were little and Christmas morning was so special. We would start the morning with the stockings on the mantle (filled with lots of oranges because it was so expensive to fill them otherwise). Then came opening the gifts under the tree. My mom usually gave them nightgowns she made. Do you love the memories of those special gifts given with love? We were never big on giving lots of gifts because we did not have the money, and I will not use a credit card to purchase gifts. If I can’t pay cash for gifts they are not getting them. Period.
Jake-Our First Grandchild
I remember when we had our first grandchild, Jake. There is something magical about having a toddler around the house during the holidays. Jake would look at the Christmas tree, the lights, and the ornaments. It was the little things that made him smile. We made sure his parents started the tradition of having them as his parents provide what they feel is appropriate and for us not to get too involved at that level since we are the grandparents. In other words, we stepped back and let the parents be the parents. We had money to buy more but we did not want Jake to want more and more each year. We didn’t want Jake to think that Santa had millions of dollars to spend on every kid in the universe. We would give one gift and it was a “need” because his parents were going to school at the time.
We did the same thing for every grandchild in terms of Christmas gifts each year thereafter. We now have 17 grandchildren. We did the same thing on birthdays. We never give more than the parents. We want the grandkids to learn that gifts are a privilege and not an entitlement. I am very proud of how our grandchildren have turned out. Yes, we will help during the year if there is a need, but there again, we are the grandparents, not the parents.
It really has been a bonus to see our grandchildren grow up and flourish. Most are very frugal and minimalistic. I am so proud of that approach to life that they’ve developed. I will admit that some of the grandkids live in neighborhoods where the other kids get very expensive gifts…I don’t have a problem with that as long as it is not ego driven. Please do not get me wrong, I have some very wealthy friends that shower their kids with lots of really nice Christmas gifts. They are millionaires. I get that. We are not millionaires. We also have millionaire friends who are very smart and do not let their kids think they are entitled to everything. I tip my hat to them.
We Stopped Giving Christmas Gifts
My husband and I gave family gifts eventually because it is way too much shopping and the cost of shipping gifts all over the US would be too much for our budget. When we semi-retired (does anyone ever really retire?) we decided we would stop giving Christmas gifts. The first year was tough. It seemed weird not to give something to our grandkids. We quickly learned that our grandkids realized “we get it”. They know we love them tons…we don’t have to give gifts we can’t afford to give. They love hanging out with us. They don’t need gifts to know we love them to the moon and back.
I am happy to report that my grandkids all have goals and savings accounts. Yes, we taught them to save money and to think before they buy something. Is it a want or a need?
Thank You-But We Do Not Need Or Want Gifts
Let me also say about ten years ago we emailed all of our kids and said we no longer want gifts throughout the year. Yes, I am saying Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts. Here’s the deal, we would rather have a hand written note or a love email than any purchased gift. It seems that hand written notes, letters or cards are extinct…really. We love emails written with thoughts and memories.
Families Are Stressed Out Buying Christmas Gifts
This time of year I know there are families struggling to feed their families, let alone buy Christmas gifts that are needed and not wants. Some children need new shoes, boots, gloves, and hats just to walk to school. Please share ideas you have that we can all use to during this holiday season to slow down on wants…..it really needs to start in the home. We all went through the 2008 economic disaster. Please be prepared for another economic disaster. I see food prices continuing to escalate and people struggling to make ends meet. We need to teach our children and grandchildren to not want so many things when they should be considering setting aside funds for their own school expenses, future children’s college, a home down payment, food storage, etc.
Teach Family To Be Self-Reliant
I am quite emotional writing this post because I have received emails from readers telling me they cannot even buy groceries let alone Christmas gifts. They are not posting on Facebook statements like “I don’t know what we are going to do for Christmas this year”. These readers are real people not wanting handouts. I understand when a job is lost. I get it. But we need to teach our families to try and plan ahead to be more self-reliant and better prepared for the unexpected.
Please trust me on this…please be prepared for the unexpected. It is our duty to take care of our families and not think the government or any other entity should step in and provide for us if we can handle things on our own.
Great gift can be used if you have charcoal stored: Lodge Dutch oven