Holiday Planning: The Present Tension
I'm busy with holiday planning and already getting stressed out. With Christmas on the horizon, I'm gearing up for the disappointments to come. My brother and sister are both doing really well financially. When their kids make up their Christmas wish lists, their parents use them like shopping lists. New mp3 player? Check. New snowboard? Check. Wii? Check. Digital video camera? Flat-screen TV? Video games? Check, check, check.
Since we all live in the same town, my kids see this and they expect the same. It stinks to have to explain to my 11-year old that he can only get one thing on his list. He's starting to feel like he got the short end of the stick landing in this family, especially when he sees his cousins rolling in expensive electronics. I try to talk about how they're just things, but frankly, I think that things are exactly what he wants!
And I can't even try to dampen the younger kids' expectations. To them, Santa Claus brings all this stuff, so how could he possibly not bring them their heart's desire, especially when they've been good this year?
We'll have to overspend to try to give our kids what they're hoping for, then spend the rest of the year scrambling to pay the bills. Holiday planning would be a lot more reasonable (and affordable) if we we could all redefine this holiday: one gift per child. Period. I mean, really, what's wrong with that?
Holiday planning has been ever more stressful this year. My family's just been getting by ever since my husband got laid off from his job. We're doing OK—the bills are paid, the kids are well-fed, and so far they haven't noticed that all their clothes are hand-me-downs. But we don't have anything to spare.