It is the holiday season, and parents everywhere have begun the mad scramble to acquire more/better/bigger stuff for their kids. Stuff that will equal happiness. In years past, we've been guilty of taking part in this ritual, throwing presents at our children to make them love us.
This year, we are trying something different. Out with the big gifts, the expensive, over-the-top extravagances. We are also putting the kibosh on the "But, Daddy, Everyone Else Has One!" gifts. If it's so popular, go play with it at someone else's house. We're not buying it.
So here they are, the five things our kids aren't getting:
1. An iPhone
Despite the pleas of our 9-year old, and the poster presentation she prepared for us on Tuesday, she will not be getting an iPhone. Or an iPod. Or an iPad. The child is 9. She is not ready. Even if she was, we would not be. Kids her age need to shoot hoops and ride bikes and journal and OCCASIONALLY play Fruit Ninja. We will not send her signals at Christmas that our priorities are the other way round.
2. Elf on the Shelf
No. Just... no. The kids get enough build-up to Christmas without some profit-driven "tradition" that forces parents to create nightly narratives involving spilled marshmallows and creatively-placed Ritz crackers. Elf Found Poisoned on the Shelf? Now that's a tradition we could get behind.
3. A puppy
Strictly speaking, a puppy is not a Christmas present. It is 15 years of poop wrapped in fur. We know. We've had two. They are cute and lovable, but destined to break your heart. Much more suitable for Valentine's Day.
4. Any variation of the American Girl experience*
Since when did a $100 doll become an "experience?" They're pretty, and the stores are worth strolling through for their museum-like perfection. But why do we shop there? Isn't this a classic example of parental peer pressure? Buy the $20 knock-off at Target instead. Then you won't have an aneurysm when your kid cuts the doll's hair or actually (gasp!) plays with it.
* Exception to #4 -- If Grandma is involved, give in. Grandparents get to indulge in ways parents do not.
5. Super hero toys
We get it -- Batman rocks. But we encounter real heroes every day. We should not have to invent fake ones. Spring for fire trucks, doctor kits or pilot helmets. Let's cultivate qualities in our children that actually matter -- bravery, wisdom and service to others. Not x-ray vision or cars that shoot flames.
Christmas will be upon us soon. Will we be sitting around with lumps of coal? Hopefully not. But we will simplify. The kids will be getting outdoor toys -- baseball gloves and hula hoops. They'll be getting experiences -- theater tickets and surfing lessons. And they'll be getting books, lots of them, because kids can never have too much to read.
December does not have to be a mad scramble. Our kids don't need to unwrap seventeen presents to know we cherish them. This year, we are loving them by giving them less.