Do we need a little less Christmas?

santa claus for christmas w128 Do we need a little less Christmas?A reader responded to “I’m dreaming of a stripped-down Christmas” with a description of her 7-year-old’s Yuletide experience:

“There are so many gifts from extended family, it actually stresses him out to open them – usually there’s a good one in the first two or three and he wants to stop and play with it, not have it taken away and have to open 10 more things.

“It looks like ingratitude, and that’s a little of it – we’re lucky to already have everything we need and most of what we want, so he’s not that into new stuff – but it’s mostly sheer overwhelm at being the center of attention and having so many people around and then having to switch focus every moment.”

I saw a bit of that myself on Tuesday as I watched a young child open a massive pile of presents. He was a little stressed and cranky by the time he was through. In fact, he had to be coaxed into opening the last few packages.

When my oldest great-nephew was a toddler he was well-nigh buried in loot on Christmas morning. At one point he was nearly in tears, saying “No more!”

No more. Would that have happened when you were small?

It sure wouldn’t have in my house. In part that’s because our parents four kids to buy for and fairly limited resources. More to the point, we didn’t already have rooms full of stuffed animals, books, action figures and games. Personal electronics were a long way off, too.

Is that a bedroom or a toy store?

The things we owned mattered to us. They got used regularly, and for years and years. At the risk of sounding like a cranky old lady, I remember long afternoons and evenings of playing baseball in our back field. We owned an ancient long baseball bat and catcher’s mitt (which I can only guess came down from my dad and his brother) and a newer baseball glove and shorter bat (from my brother’s Little League career).

Some of the kids who came over to play brought equipment, but most didn’t. We wanted to play, so we played. We made do, and we had fun.

Christmas was good for a big-ticket item like a new board game, a sled or a set of Lincoln Logs. Bikes showed up one year – big rejoicing. One holiday my brother got a train that ran a single, sea-level loop on a slab of plywood painted green. No multi-level tracks with competing trains, no depot, no signs or switches — just a single painted-foam mountain with a tunnel cut through it. I remember a lot of hours watching the train run, wondering what it would be like to travel somewhere outside our little rural township. Sometimes I’d peer into the tunnel to see the locomotive’s headlight shining through the gloom.

Yep, we were easily amused. My point: We were amused. We did enjoy our playthings, as relatively limited as they were. The children’s rooms I see these days look like toy shops — so much stuff that none of it really matters.

Put another way: Another relative goes through her kids’ rooms a couple of times a year and removes enough toys to fill a 40-gallon trash bag. The items get donated to Value Village.

The kids don’t seem to notice they’re gone.

When is enough enough?

Part of that is my fault. Many of the things I give are items I get free at conferences or cheaply from clearance bins, yard sales and thrift stores. But I keep giving them, even when there’s no specific occasion – and even though I don’t want to turn them into kids who expect to get something every time I come over.

Heck, I had to talk myself out of going out on Black Friday. Even though I had gifts for everyone already, I wanted to shop.

At what point is enough waaaay too much?

I understand why we buy. We want our kids to have everything we didn’t have. We want that so much that we don’t stop to think whether having so much is what’s best for them.

A few days before Christmas I found myself wanting yet again to buy more presents. That’s when I decided to create sub-accounts for the kids in my online bank. When I want to buy unnecessary stuff I’ll just transfer a few bucks into those accounts. I’ll also do my usual one or two gifts to them at Christmas and salt away any other cash that I’m tempted to spend.

Over time it may add up to enough to pay for, say, a single college textbook. Or maybe it will add up to a scary amount, a figure that will make me wonder what I was thinking when I bought so much – even if most of it was cheap at the time.

It adds up. So does the detritus in our kids’ rooms, and in our own. More isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes it’s just too much.


50 Comments

  1. Donna,you just hit the nail on the head on this writing!! I have found through my years of gift giving as a mom, an auntie, a grandmother, neighbor and friend to kids, that almost all kids want a toy or two that they really want. All the other toys are extra and do end up being too much! But the children do want to open presents. So…I do give presents…but I give a dvd for the family, or clothes that the kids will appreciate when they go back to school, or even more school supplies with a few holiday pencils and such added in…and those magic gloves in fun colors that fit everyone! The point is…I can still go shopping and get great prices on things…as I do this almost year round, but I don’t give extra stuff that ends up in the toy bin unused. I still think this way as the kids grow up…college kids love those little extra stocking stuffers like chapstick and samples of lotion and hand sanitizer…It’s all in the presentation, and given with love, is appreciated! Thanks for bringing up such a pertinent topic this holiday season!! Happy New Year to you and all of us who follow you!!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Kathy: I agree! Some “practical” presents can still be fun: character pencils or notebooks, fancy shampoo or lotion for the mommas, special food treats like fancy chocolate, gift cards to coffeehouses. I guess those go along with “experiences vs. stuff” idea — items that will be used and maybe even ultimately used up.
      I gave a ton of gift cards this year, mostly ones I cashed in from rewards programs. These will all get used up for things the recipients want but maybe can’t always afford (movies, dinners out), or for things they need every day (several of them were department-store or Visa gift cards that will likely wind up being used for stuff like socks and underwear, or new school shoes midway through the year).
      The college student ideas you mentioned were good, too; some people do these are “care packages” during the year and others as going-away kits in the fall. All practical, all appreciated.
      Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.

  2. Years ago, after helping clean out my grandmother’s 2-bedroom apartment before she moved to a nursing home, I decided to cut down drastically on the stuff my kids received for Xmas.

    So I told all extended family (so all aunts, cousins, grandparents) that I don’t want anything given to my kids for Xmas. This was hard for everyone to accept but I used my grandmother as an example and they listened. My grandmother didn’t have a lot of things, but enough to live in a 2-bedroom apartment, and believe me, getting rid of everything was very difficult. This action resulted in muuuuuuuch less stuff around after Xmas.

    Enough with the stuff already.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Tanya: Wow, that’s hard-core!
      But I think putting some money into the kids’ accounts will mean more to them later on than a bunch of toys they can hardly remember playing with. Or at least I keep telling myself that. Not that they’re going to know about this, you understand; it’ll be brought up only if/when there’s an issue of paying for school, i.e., if there’s a shortfall. If not? I’ll hang on to it until they finish college/trade school and then give it to them as start-up money.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  3. Donna, you’re welcome! I think the main trend among my peers is to cut down on gifts. Usually I give one to our family that doesn’t take up space. By that I mean, a year membership to the zoo, or to the science centre, or a night at a fancy hotel with a pool. The kids love it, it’s like a promise of spending time together doing fun stuff throughout the year.

  4. Northern Mom

    My children are all young adults and I may have mentioned this before but.. when they were little I would purchase a larger gift for the group (easels, doll house, rocking horse etc.)( Besides some individual and stocking gifts) Many gifts were purchased second hand ( many times because they were better made!) The majority of the “money” I had allocated for gifts went into education accounts.
    All of my children were deeply touched and appreciative when they realized the sum that had been put away, when they were in high school.
    Donna, not only will they appreciate you put something away for them ( the nephews) I’ll bet they figure out ways to keep those education costs down. Mine bought and sold second hand books andborrowed and used the library system when possible.
    It has been so rewarding to see that they took all that modelled frugal behaviour when they were younger and even when older did not recklessly spend the monetary gifts given.:)

  5. We did cherish our toys and played with them all year long! We got one doll at Christmas, only one doll in a year. My daugters were given dolls over my objection, spoken beforehand. Ugly inlaws and even uglier church members would hand them gifts at any occasion. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, a church member would present a doll to my girls. By Christmas Day, the doll from Santa was all but trampled.

    One Christmas, I laid out all the toys to see if the older two had even amounts of toys. I discovered I had bought too much and did not give it to them. The two huge monster, metal Tonka toys were given to them after school ended. They really appreciated the tanker and fire truck that they could hook up to the hose. Those were two of the most grateful children I have ever seen. However, since they never got toys outside of birthday and Christmas, unlike their friends, they kept questioning me about why I gave them toys. They took nothing for granted!

    My youngest daughter had a bedroom that was about 18′x20′, dining room in our old house. People were appalled and chided me because she had so many toys. I had to fend off their wrath with a little of my own, and explain that those toys were given to me and the older two, that she got very little toys. She preferred a stick to poke in the dirt or to just examine tree bark or climb a tree. She was only three but managed to climb so high I could barely reach her. She was never bored inside or out.

    My children’s toys I bought them have survived for grandchildren to play with. I don’t recall giving away anything but the monster rocking horse. The things that went away were usually broken. I have even sold toys lately in original boxes at antique stores. Yes, they played with toys and some went back on shelves and in the box. Even much-played with puzzles survived to be passed down.

    It may sound like my house was clutter-free, but it was strewn with toys most days, not a museum storeroom with toys on shelves or in boxes.

    My 11-yr-old gdaughter got a laptop for Christmas. It will be gone in a few years. I still have my bride doll that I got when I was 11.

    • Julie Wubbena

      You lost me when you insulted your “ugly in-laws and even uglier church members.” Sounds like you are quite bitter.

  6. My BF’s side of the family have no money, but Christmas (and birthdays) are times when the nieces get swamped with gifts. It stressed *me* out arriving on Christmas day and having to navigate the masses of wrapping paper and packaging. Yet I still felt like I had to measure up by giving amazing gifts and felt like I failed with my efforts.

  7. My three year old niece was the center of gift giving this year. All the adults opted out giving eachother presents although my sister couldn’t resist giving me a reusable lunch tote, which I will use. My niece still didn’t get tons of stuff. She’s only three! She was given a little desk with chair, a ride on car, a few “toys”, two dvds and several books. My sister promptly stashed “old toys” away, no doubt when summer comes I will see a lot of “old toys” in our annual garage sale (which we call our “purge” sale or more colorfully “get rid of this s*@t” sale).

    For my nieces birthday party she says on the invite please no presents, your presence is all the gift we would like. My sister then brings a couple items for my niece to open.
    Kids DO NOT need a lot of STUFF. (either do adults).

    As for toys, my sister is in early childhood developement. Don’t let your kids watch tv with commercials, they will want to get the stuff in the commercials! and avoid taking them to anystore with toys, or stay out of the toy aisle. Rotate their toys. That is hide them away and bring them out again every so often, they will feel like “new”.

    For gifts for your children to give to another focus on having your child make the card (or gift) themselves and focus on what is needed, usable or money. A good book, an embroidered towel, a “custom” made placemat, a quilt.

    Incidently, what children see you do will rub off on them, if they see you being an over the top consumer they will think that is normal. Start asking relatives to forgo your gifts and limit your children to one gift each and make suggestions as to what would be appropriet to give.

  8. I have not-so-fond memories of my son at age 5, bawling and begging to stay home instead of going to yet another Christmas gathering where he would be expected to open dozens and dozens of gifts. I used to return more than half the toys he got and he still never played with most of the things we kept. Relatives often bought gifts that were very nice, but not his taste, and it seemed so silly for them to spend the money on something he didn’t even enjoy. It is/was absolutely out of control.

    Now he’s 14 and he asked for money this year instead of all the gifts. He has about $1k in his Paypal account right now just from Christmas – and cannot think of a single thing to spend it on. I could not even fathom that kind of money at that age, and here I sit with a child who has so much stuff, he can’t even come up with anything he wants to use the money to buy.

    I wish everyone would take a step back and realize that most kids don’t need anything. It makes more sense to me to find kids or families who are truly in need and do something for them instead, but when I’ve suggested it, it spawns a discussion of deserving vs. undeserving poor (which is a whole other story) and no action is taken. I really wish there was a better way to handle these situations.

    • You have a good kid if he can sit on money like that. In my extended family, we make charitable donations in one anothers’ names. We have the means to do gifts, but everyone has too much stuff already and our families really appreciate their names on the donations. Most often, they do the same in our names.

      When we do gifts for the grandkids, it is something they can really use, or something that involves everyone, like a season family pass to the local water park. It is too expensive for them to buy for themselves, but provides enjoyment for several months.

      You mentioned the undeserving poor, and they do exist, but we have found that to be the exception more than the rule. And we are certainly careful to which organizations we donate. We have even, as an extended family, adopted another family (my BIL is in social services) which would have fallen through the cracks.

      Over the years, the kids learn a lot more about the value of giving than about getting.

      Merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year!

    • You don’t really have to “handle” the situation. That is to say that if you can’t get the relatives to redirect some of their money to the poor, so be it.

      You CAN however get them to stop giving your son so much. Set out the boundaries and insist they observe them. For a 14 year old to have a thousand dollars given to him for one Christmas is just ludicrous.

      I would instantly move that money to a college/car account and lay down the law to your relatives for next Christmas.

  9. What a timely article….DW and I were just chatting about this. It seems we have raised…well… “spoiled children”. DD2 promptly removed her Xmas gifts, mostly clothes, from under the tree to put them “into inventory”. She then proceeded to fill about 4 trash bags with clothes. Nothing wrong with the clothes mind you in fact some of them had never been worn. These items were donated to Good Will, a worthy charity…which is where I purchase my “work clothes”….Hmmm…It would seem a scaled back Xmas is long over due… Thanks for the article!!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Jestjack: It’s easy to buy in (so to speak) to what you see your peers doing/having. If your daughters’ friends shop a lot and constantly upgrade their wardrobes, well, that’s normal behavior. I happen to know their dad is super-frugal, so maybe when the young women face adversity or decide to make big changes in their lives (buying a home, having a baby, starting a business) they will remember all the stuff they learned at their dad’s Goodwill-dressed knee.
      Thanks for commenting, and have a frugal New Year.

  10. My sisters and I played for HOURS on flat pieces of cardboard and leftover lumber in the yard as the they became ships and life rafts. Some days the pieces of lumber were arranged as the outline of our castle, spaceship or as a fort. We needed only time, space and imagination to have a good time. The only “toys” I can recall receiving and that I was thrilled with were a bike and later a little sewing kit. That red and white wicker basket with not much more than scissors, thread and needles launched me on a lifetime hobby of sewing.

  11. Good post! We had a stripped down Christmas this year (very easy without any little kids to “disappoint”) and it felt good. No one felt cheated or like they missed out on anything and it killed the whole overwhelming process of rushing around the mall trying to figure out what to buy for people who have more than enough to begin with.

  12. My little nieces (5 and 9) got kindle fires this year, sil told me that she bargained with them – they did not have birthday parties this year in exchange for the gift they wanted. I thought that was brilliant. SIL told me to give them office supplies, I got a super excited reaction from the younger one when she realized she got 3 rolls of scotch tape!!! whooo owhoooo and I got it for practically nothing at a sale at Rite Aid. I think their mom is pretty smart!

    • Donna Freedman

      @db: Interesting compromise. That would work for any big-ticket item, including whole-family gifts during tight economic times (“If we do just one or two small gifts apiece we can afford that season pass to the water park”).

  13. ImJuniperNow

    When I was little, all I wanted for Christmas was that one toy that I asked for that year but for some reason never got. (I also wanted a pony and a monkey, but that’s another story) As I got older and realized that Christmas was never going to be what I imagined, I bought myself that one “toy” I wanted but knew I wouldn’t get.

    Now, what I truly want is for the stores and the media to lay off Christmas in September. At least let Halloween pass before the Christmas stuff comes out. I want that one radio station out of NYC to ease up on the 24-hour Christmas music, which this year they moved up to start the week before Thanksgiving and I expect it to start after July 4th next year.

    There was a poll on MSN the other day about Lance Armstrong being sued by some newspaper. The responses to choose from were (1) Yes, (2) No and (3) With Everything That’s Going On Does It Matter. The majority of voters chose (3).

    Maybe a Stripped Down Christmas movement has a chance after all.

    Happy New Year Everybody!

  14. My niece (2.5 yo) was COMPLETELY overwhelmed by Christmas this year. Too many households to visit, too many gifts to open. My sister ended up setting aside a whole bunch of gifts, still wrapped, and having my niece open a few more each day after Christmas. I love to get her gifts, but I’m finding that she won’t remember who got her what, and much of it will end up donated or sold at a yard sale.

    Surprisingly enough, this year her favorite gift from me was a hoodie shirt. Moving forward, I’m going to limit my gifts to some clothes, something educational (like a book or DVD), and maybe a savings bond, or something like that. No more toys. She has toys coming out of her ears.

    • Yep, I remember those days with my kids! I remember setting aside some presents to be opened much later, like on a boring rainy day when we had to stay inside. Or on a day when Mommy has had ENOUGH and needs them to have a distraction for a few hours.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Erin: Maybe that should be the rallying cry of the little-less-Christmas movement — “No more toys!”
      If you want to get the relatives’ attention, make a list of as many toys as you can remember her having received. Get a list price for each one. Send the total amount to all involved and suggest, gently, that some of those dollars be sent toward the future.
      The toys will be broken/forgotten soon. When she’s 18 and looking at taking out student loans, those dollars could be a big help.
      And yes, yes, I know it’s fun to watch kids open toys. But having watched so many playthings be set aside and ignored, all I can think is “They don’t care whether you give them a toy or not!” Perhaps a bunch of you could get together to buy a big-ticket item, such as the water-park season pass mentioned by another commenter.
      Even if no one else wants to play, please set aside your own dollars. Sixteen years from now, apply them toward tuition at the college or trade school she selects. And if she doesn’t choose higher ed? See if the money, however slight, could get her going on another dream.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

    • We have a four year old niece, and we were having a dreadful time picking out a present. She has so many toys, and we didn’t want to add to that pile. We ended up getting her a pair of sparkly pink dress shoes. The excitement on her face! That one present was more than enough.

      We also did Christmas early (Dec 7th), so we had the luxury of watching our niece and nephew each only enjoy the one present we got them with nothing else for them to open. It was awesome.

      (side note: the 6 year old nephew got a toolbox with some additional screw/nail organizers for organizing all his legos. He played with it all day long.)

      For birthdays, we typically give the kids a subscription to a magazine like Ranger Rick or Highlights. That’s a fun gift that keeps on giving and is different from their piles of toys.

  15. The Saturday before the Christmas (Tuesday), Walmart decided to scale back Christmas by displaying shelves and shelves of Valentine items. I really felt sorry for the harried stockers having to frantically put aside Christmas and handle all the Valentine merchandise. I had to turn away.

  16. When my dks were babies and toddlers and older they were swamped with gifts from my father and his companion, my sister, my dh’s two aunts and my dsil. It stressed ME out. Too much stuff! I can tell you that the kids hardly played with any of it. My dmil did it right. She sent money. As our dks were diagnosed as being deaf we used that money to buy hearing aids.

    The grandparents and aunts have passed on and I get our young adult kids things they need or want. I get free gift cards from my credit card account and survey sites. Ds gets a $100 Nike gc every year, dd gets a $100 Barnes and Noble gc. They get a stocking full of candy. Ds needed a new wallet, dd got a new tshirt. Very simple.

    Those childhood Christmases make me shiver still.

  17. Ro in San Diego

    After years of stress and expense, my husband’s family now has a White Elephant gift exchange with funny and creative gifts exchanged. It’s a lot of fun and we keep the expenses down.

    Christmases past in our home were a source of stress for me because my husband enjoyed showering our son with presents from Santa, but I was left to figure out to pay for Santa’s generosity in the following months.

  18. The past couple of years, I had asked for my family to start cutting down on the gifts that my kids get for Christmas. I had been having an issue with only one family member, but this year she finally “saw the light” when I relayed a story about my oldest child. She was walking across the living room and dropped the game she was playing with. I cautioned her to be more careful. She shrugged and said “I have lots of other stuff anyway.”

    Since then, we have been going through both kids’ rooms every couple of months and dropping toys into a plastic bin that I keep at the top of my closet. If the child is looking for the toy, I retrieve it. If a toy stays in the bin for 3 months, it gets donated.

    • Donna Freedman

      @TLSF: That sounds like an excellent “Do they really miss it?” strategy. Good for you!

  19. Christmas is such a magical time of year. But, it’s magic because it’s a time I and my family review what good things are in our lives. We give gifts to the little ones. But here’s the formula: one book, one outfit, one toy. of course Santa comes as well. My gifts included a mug with all the grands pictures on it. Also an ornament with all their names on it. Oh, and OREOS! I’m so thankful for everyone who loves me and for those I love. My gifts keep on giving. Merry Christmas to all.

    • Donna Freedman

      @LynnDutt: A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, Dutt…And thanks for sending a Christmas card to my Aunt Dot. She was delighted.

  20. Well… When I was a kid, thank goodness, I was the only child. So even though my parents were far from wealthy, they weren’t overstretched at that time of year.

    We lived in Saudi Arabia. Each Christmas the Company would ship in wads and wads of toys from Europe, which would be sold at the commissary. All I ever wanted to play with (besides the spaceship I built in the backyard out of an old packing crate and a zillion rolls of tinfoil) was stuffed animals. So my mother bought the stuffed animals the Company had shipped in: dozens and dozens of Steiff animals.

    Unfortunately, I took the ear tags off, so they’re no longer worth what they might have been. And my son wouldn’t play with them when he was little (he wanted computer games and model airplanes). So to this day I have a trunkful of Steiff animals gathering dust in the closet. I hope that after I croak over my son will realize they’re worth a lot of money and get the best price he can for them. They were given with so much love and used in so much love, I can’t bring myself to get rid of them.

  21. A few years ago I spent December in Asia. So I missed all the stores with the holiday music, and the TV commercials, and radio ads, and everything else.

    I returned to the US after Christmas and realized that I had just experienced the sanest December of my life, having missed all the commercialized propaganda for that month.

    • Fru-gal Lisa

      “commercialized propaganda” says it all! I am tired of merchants trying to imply if you don’t spend a kazillion bucks on someone, you don’t love them. I’ve gotten to the point that I’m getting sick of seeing Santa Clauses all over the place because the merchants and advertisers who practice this commercialized propaganda has made him into a personification of greed, as in “what are you gonna get me, Santa?” My Christmas celebration focuses on the biblical story, not on cartoonish kiddie characters. The birth of Jesus Christ is the real meaning of Christmas, all else just doesn’t measure up.

  22. Good post. Now, admittedly I spent quite a bit of money on gifts this year, mostly for kids. I guess this is a weak spot for me, where I tend to do the opposite of my normally frugal, money-conscious approach.

    That being said, I totally agree with the notion that too many gifts don’t make sense and aren’t really great for the kids actually.

  23. Vicky Fox

    I think this can be applied to all ages. This Christmas was THE BEST Christmas I have celebrated in 10 plus years, and there were only 3 wrapped presents under the tree. I had a ball being taken to see The Hobbit. It’s a memory that can’t be replaced.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Vicky Fox: I’m happy to hear that you’re happy. It’s been a rough couple of years. Now I need to go see “The Hobbit,” too.

  24. LynnDutt

    Dutt, Donna, Vicky, and Jack – together again! Nice

  25. Why not put away some of those gifts for later on, spread the joy out a bit, and keep the kids out of gift overload. Make it a tradition, explain it to gift givers, and let the kids enjoy opening the gifts for the next six months or so (set aside a day per month as a mini-Xmas or some other event)

  26. For the first time in years we spent Xmas with all of our extended family and I was sick at the end of the day with all of toys that they bought our 4 year old. Previously my husband and I would buy our son 1-2 gifts, a few would come in the mail and we would enjoy a quiet day cooking and hanging out. Right now I’m dreaming of a big yard sale in the spring to get his room back to normal! Am also thinking about if we’ll go back to celebrate with them next year at all or if I need to throw down Mommy-law and declare no presents. Honestly, and sadly, think that it would be less offensive to everyone to just visit them in the summer. One thing I know is that I won’t have my son growing up thinking that Christmas is about getting a ton of battery operated crap. I was kind of surprised at how upset I was by the whole thing as it was something that hadn’t come up for us before.

  27. When I moved from California back to the Caribbean it took care of all the gift giving stress. My son got a couple toys and several books.Money gifts went into an account. For myself only one item I’d been wanting. Less clutter,less stress.Some cultures are just stress inducing.

  28. My husband thinks i’m crazy, but every January I go through everything I/we own. I open every drawer, cabinet, and storage box and get rid of what we aren’t using, appreciate the token trinkets I’ve chosen to save… and clean our home top to bottom. It’s easy to do right after Christmas because all of our holiday decorations are out so our main storage closet is half empty.

    Sure, my gets a little upset at first when I make him move our bed so I can dust the base boards and pick up the fallen trash that’s accumulated there…

    But its freeing to remove the stuff that doesn’t matter anymore to me… Sure we live in a condo right now, but even if space wasn’t an issue, its just really freeing to focus on what we need, what we have, and what we want and use…

    While we are still going through everything, the progress I’ve made de-cluttering our condo has vastly improved how I feel when I come home after work. I appreciate my home more. I enjoy the time I spend here again and my home no longer stresses me out. Instead its turned back into a refuge.

    I think that our culture is so enamored with stuff that we are hindering ourselves from making the memories that other generations had, and that makes me sad. I’m glad I’ve given up pointless gift swap exchanges and that my husband’s family kind of draws names out of a hat for the holidays. You don’t get loaded with items and you don’t stress out about buying something just to buy it.

  29. This post reminds of the best Christmas I can remember with my four children. We decided ahead of time to open one present each every hour until they were all opened on Christmas morning.

    We had so much fun that day–it wasn’t over too quickly. We played with, read and/or oohed and awed over everything that was opened. When we were done we had a Christmas lunch.

    By slowing it down, we experienced it all more. It was a perfect soloution to the problem of too much Christmas all at once. Granted we did not have a lot in those days, so we may have had fewer gifts under the tree, than the writer of this post, but it still made a huge difference to our enjoyment of the day.

    • Fru-gal Lisa

      Excellent idea! Thank you! I will suggest we implement the once an hour opening of presents this Dec. 24 and 25!

  30. Fru-gal Lisa

    Of course, no one buys the kids any books or items that will help them in school — the last I heard, video games are not on any standardized test, and comic book heroes aren’t usually represented on the SAT exams. Is it any wonder that our over-indulged kids scored so low when compared with students from just about any other country you can name?

  31. I couldn’t agree more! Thank you so much for this post. I just wrote about the same subject if you’d like to check it out http://myoverflowingcup.com/christmas-in-july/ – this is how I would love to see Christmas. I’m so glad we are talking about this subject. Thanks, again, for starting the conversation.

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