It is a dreaded time of year. You dread the answer to the question because you feel like you are morally obligated to deliver. What kids want for Christmas gifts really depends on what you expose them to.
Like every parent, I asked the yearly question. I used to get all anxious about it. If I asked them what they wanted as Christmas gifts, wasn’t I morally obligated to deliver on it? Wasn’t I the Santa that made dreams come true? Would they be shattered if they didn’t get what was essentially promised?
With every year as the kids grew, it was the newest and latest trendy gift that was asked. One year Cabbage Patch dolls or computer games… who knew what else. As they aged the gifts got more expensive. I overheard one parent the other day saying their kids are asking for the newest PS3, tablets and other essential electronics for today’s teenager.
It just seems like a never ending game of one-up-man-ship and consumerism. Whether you as a parent can afford or not never seems to enter the conversation… it is just expected.
Or is it?
About 20 years ago, Sweetheart and I came to a decision. We were both working and would arrive home after the kids had returned from school. In the two hours they were alone, they were sitting in front of the TV zoned out. No homework was done, no piano practicing or chores performed.
It did not matter that we got the expanded cable TV with the ‘quality’ kids programming. They were still zoned out in front of the tube taking in everything that was presented… including all the advertising and marketing messages.
We could hardly get angry at them. They were using something that we enabled. We allowed the TV to be in our lives.
So after some discussion with the kids we cut the TV out totally. We replaced it with a subscription to the largest newspaper daily we could get.
There was some grumbling and getting used to not have the sound on all the time. They played board games. Piano was practiced and chores were done. And we talked about the issues that were reported in the newspaper. We had deep discussions about society and global issues.
Now as grown independent living adults, they still do not watch TV. They are not driven with Keep Up With The Jones consumerism. I still give them books for Christmas.