When is there too much of a good thing? I love my kids, deeply, and I work hard so that they do not want and are set up with every advantage I can give them. Still, there’s times I have to shake my head and wonder.
This Christmas, indeed every Christmas, the pile of presents under the tree is massive. It overspills, covering the floor. It makes for a very pretty picture, and the kids literally jump for joy when they see it. Yet…
Now, forgoeing my usual handwringing, we’re affluent. Most of our relatives are affluent. Though in both my and my wife’s family we’ve got tacit agreements on presents between each other (my family has a present draw, LL’s has unspoken limits on how much can be spent), with regards to the kids there is no limit. When you take into account that both LL and I have three siblings, both of us have living parents, and there are various great aunts and uncles in the mix, plus godparents it makes for a lot, and I mean a lot of presents.
We keep lists and the kids all hand make thank you cards, so I know the exact total. Not including the ones to my mum, LL and I there where 42 presents under the tree (not including book tokens and little envelopes with cash). 42! For three kids! We actually spread the opening of presents over four days so they had a chance to look at, play and enjoy each one.
The house is literally litered with toys of every make and description, though lego plays a large part (and little lego bits make a larger part of the litter). The recycling bin was overflowing with wrapping paper and boxes, even after I used a lot as fire lighters.
Now I’m pleased as punch that the kids DID take time over each one, they didn’t rush through opening the lot in 10 minutes. They’ve got restraint and discipline, even my Princess, and that pleases me no end. We’ve also had no complaints about doing thank you cards, all hand painted, and labouriously written in the case of the two boys (we make it a game, so its fun).
But still, its too much. The question is, how do you say to the mass of friends and relations to hold back, maybe club together? I know how good giving feels, especially if its something enjoyed. I don’t want to withhold that pleasure. Yet I don’t want the kids thinking abundance in the norm. It may not, likely not, be the case. I just don’t know the answer though.