As a follow up to my last column, about “giving thanks,” I would like to address the question, “How much is too much?” The gift giving season is here and no matter what celebration you participate in, gift giving will be involved.
I, personally, celebrate Christmas, and the magic of Christmas morning is so fun for me and my kids. It’s hard to not go overboard. I am guilty of buying more than my kids need.
Last year, my kids all had big-ticket items on their lists. My oldest son wanted a large (expensive) Lego set, and my middle son wanted a riding tractor. The Lego set cost the total amount we wanted to spend on each kid, so my oldest son was getting one gift. The tractor wasn’t as expensive, so he got a few more gifts to go along with it, and my daughter and youngest son didn’t have lists, so they got a lot of things to open, none very big-ticket items.
We tried to stick to our budget, but when we looked at the gifts in their respective piles the week before Christmas, we could not handle that our oldest son just had one thing to open. Off to the store we went for a few more things, which turned into a few more things for everyone.
Christmas morning was awesome. A few weeks later, all these little extras and some of the original gifts were broken, pieces were missing, or they were forgotten, shoved under the couch. In the end, the Lego set and the tractor were the only things they really got a kick out of.
So, how much is too much? I have a basement full of toys (some broken, some incomplete, but they are all down there taking up half the space), and yet my children tell me, “I’m bored!” My husband and I are technology hoarders. We have tablets of all shapes and sizes all over the house. Do we need these? No.
What can we do about it?
This past Sunday, I went with my sister to her church in Atlanta. They were doing a four-week sermon on how to be a good “rich” person. The overall message was to not hoard your wealth (money, time, excess stuff) for yourself. Give to others, and you’ll be rewarded with more treasure than you can handle. The message hit home with me. The money we spent last Christmas on gifts for our family would have been put to better use going to a homeless shelter, buying gifts for kids who do not get anything for Christmas (which we do by the way, we just could have done more!), or sending a package overseas to our troops.
This year, my plan is this: get my kids one or two gifts from their list. Then have them pick two charities that they would like to donate their time or money to. I will have them participate in this donation and explain to them how giving back is the greatest gift of all. My hope is they will eventually see that the amount of gifts they get under the tree is not the measure of how wonderful their Christmas was.
Rather, the amount they give away to others is the great measure.