05 November 2013

Overindulgence



Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month's topic is Incorporating Natural Into the Holidays. Be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.









I watched some programmes on television recently, if you are thinking and?  Bear with me!  A TV has never been a feature in my life, the adverts were loud, fast paced and insidious when you hear talk of something but don't experience it yourself it is easy to forget what it is really like.  When I hear folks lamenting the cost of buying presents for their children I often think why do you need to spend so much, having watched those adverts recently I am reminded why.  I have heard advertising companies talk of pester power and tapping into markets, it is unbelievable the lengths some companies will go to to get their products bought.

I well remember returning to school after the Christmas holidays, hearing people talk about what they had been given, I was always shocked at the volume.  This kind of present giving has emerged in my extended family since I have married and my siblings have too.  Every family has their own traditions for celebrating Christmas, I have been struggling over the last few years to find my own family traditions ones that will work for us and extended family.  Buying lots of presents for the children because they are not seen very often is a poor excuse, I would rather the visits were more often.  The excess was starting to get to me, the volume was overwhelming for me and we live in a small house it has all got to go somewhere.  

Last year I felt I needed to get a handle on presents before it spiralled out of control.  It was frustrating to be told, when giving present ideas, is that all?  Yes it is that is all we want and need.  But it is starting to work.  When we give one small idea that is all we want to be given, one small heartfelt present is far better then many unwanted gifts.  Gift giving and receiving is not, for me, about replacement for time or love or whatever is missing.  It is about giving a gift that you truly believe the recipient will love and treasure regardless of the size or cost.

Another change I made last year was to remove the myth of Father Christmas from our house.  In the past they have had a few small presents, four or five, from this mythical man and one larger one from us.  We wanted to continue to give a larger gift but I also wanted to make some small presents for the children.  They are still given four small gifts using the idea, which I cannot remember where I read about, of something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.  I was concerned, when I bought in this change, that my eldest would be most bothered.  Neither of my children were in the least bit troubled by this change they still received presents and they loved the fact that I had made them things without them knowing.  This is no mean feat in our house as we home educate and the children go to bed fairly late, I am with them most of the time.

I feel much calmer about Christmas this year.  I have made many presents to give already and I have started to think about ideas for gifts that others could buy for us.  We are spending Christmas at home this year which makes it easier as all presents have to be posted which by necessity makes them small, next year we will spend with extended family so it remains to be seen whether I am as calm next year!



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8 comments:

  1. Last year we gave my eldest some watercolour paints and watercolour paper, as well as some books. As Christmas approached I had a bit of a panic. Lots of his friends were getting computer games, laptops, i-phones, i-pads etc. etc. We were giving him paint! His reaction on Christmas Day blew me away. He was SO thrilled, and declared it his best Christmas ever. He still loves his paints and uses them regularly. and he treasures the watercolour paper. And the carefully chosen books went down really well too. In that moment I was so proud of him and his ability to be happy and creative.

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    1. It makes me wonder, when I hear such lovely moments, whether children really want what they are asking for or whether they ask because that is what everyone else is getting so they think they should have one too. You should be justly proud of yourself for raising a son who knows what he wants and is grateful when he receives such lovely heartfelt presents.

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  2. This is so true. Having grown up in a family who celebrated Christmas in a frugal (but by no means boring!) way, I often cringe at the excesses of many over this time. Gifts definitely need not be expensive to be valuable!

    I am quite inspired by your "getting rid of Santa". When I was growing up, the whole family had a stocking to hang on Christmas Eve, but though we made a pretence of believing these were filled by Santa, we knew better from a very young age, as everyone was involved in making or finding gifts to fill everyone else's stockings. And of course, knowing that someone who loves you made or bought something specially for you is a lot more meaningful than thinking it came from someone you've never met! My eldest is beginning to question the idea of Santa, so this may be the year to get this started in our home too, beginning by involving him in getting his little brother's stocking filled!

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  3. Great post about keeping priorities straight during the holidays. I love the idea of something wanted, something needed, something to wear, something to read.

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  4. Thank you for sharing the "wanted-needed-wear-read". What a great way to prioritize gifts, and ensure that they will be used and treasured (which is what we hope for, right?). I appreciate your frankness - we also balk at the commercialization of a family holiday - it's nice to know we are not alone in wanting to cut back the hype and focus on our family.

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  5. Great post. Every year my m.i.l gives the kids a catalogue from the local 'mega' toy shop to help them write their lists to santa! This year I have asked her not to do this, as I would like to know what my kids really want, and not what jumps out at them from a glossy magazine! A while back my eldest said he wanted a DS. I honestly didn't know what it was so I asked him, turns out he didn't know either but apparently Everybody has one!!!
    Love the wanted-needed-wear-read idea. We still have Santa here but I think I will ask my boys to just put these four things on their lists and maybe one surprise!
    Love CJ's story of her son's present. I was thinking or putting together a craft basket for my youngest, with some good quality paper and art supplies. I know he would be delighted to find that under the tree.
    Have a great weekend.

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  6. Thank goodness my family are not into buying tons and tons of junky toys, lets hope it remains this way ;)

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  7. We like giving experiences or passes to local museums and arboretums as gifts. They are a great gift to keep enjoying all year long like those watercolors.

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