My parents gave the kids gift cards this past Christmas.
Their decision was based solely on the fact that every gift they bought for the boys last year was a duplicate of something they’d already received from one of our other relatives at earlier gift-opening ceremonies. When I noticed the recurring pattern, (and the disappointment on my parents’ faces each time) I cringed with every subsequent unwrapping, silently praying it wasn’t something else they’d already received, knowing full well that Deaglan would exclaim loud and clear to the affirmative if it was.
So this year when they opened their Christmas mail from Mimi and Papa (my parents winter in Mexico and had sent the cards ahead of time should we want to choose the gifts for the kids ourselves to eliminate last year's dilemma), I quickly explained what gift cards were. I had them (mostly Deaglan) imagine a time, much, much farther into the future, after Christmas was well behind us, when they might finally feel bored with their Christmas (and for Deaglan, birthday) toys, a point when they might be thinking how nice it would be to have a new toy or book. I explained that this was precisely when they would be delighted to realize they could walk into the toy and book store (for they’d received a gift card for each) and choose something of their wanting.
I’ll tell you, the prospect of this sounded very good to Deaglan, very, very good indeed. So good in fact, that after I’d explained it to him, he could not tuck the idea away for that future day I spoke of. Instead he wondered out loud every single day for the next few weeks if it might be the right day, that very day, to spend those gift cards, so that each time, increasingly wearily, I pointed out what I felt was the obvious, that there was an enormous pile of new toys, some still in its packaging, fresh, yet unplayed-with at his disposal.
This did nothing to discourage him.
It’s difficult for me to reconcile this kind of excess. On the one hand I’m exceedingly grateful to our very generous families for using their hard earned money to create wonderful Christmas experiences for our boys. I’m very, very grateful for it; I can’t stress this enough.
But I wonder too, each year, whether there is a way to stop the insanity of it; to bring the season back to its essence, you know, family time, helping people who need it, celebrating without all the commercialism and consumerism.
Every time I consider that the right thing might very well be to take a stand, stop celebrating Christmas in this way altogether, I am forced to play the scenario out. And this is exactly when I recognize that although I could really get behind a more wholesome, natural way of doing things, due to the fact that I’m easily distracted, in order to really pull it off, we'd likely have to cut all ties with everyone we know in the free world, move out to the deep, deep woods somewhere in the northern part of the province perhaps; an isolated foresty locale where we would be required to live out a rustic, pastoral existence, without TV or internet influencing our desires for little more than twigs and rocks for amusement. A lifestyle I fear I am in no way equipped to handle either emotionally or by way of skillset.
And I’m sorry.
Because this is not at all what I wanted to regale you with today. What I really wanted to tell you, mostly because you’ve received this kind of thing so well over the years and also a teensy bit because when you’re the mother of small kids who consistently do things that astound and amuse you (and so we're clear – also irritate the crap out of you), there is an itching desire to tell someone or many someones about it.
You realize, however, not everyone thinks your kids are as charming as you do, and you can only deposit so many stories of their adorable antics into the Bank of Good, Kind, Listening Friend (GKLF if you will), so that you find yourself taking the leftovers to your blog to fully document the depth and breadth of how scrumptiously delectable your naughty two year old is.
Sheesh, I’ve sort of built that up in a way I may not be able to deliver.
Here’s the thing: Every time Naveen sees me squeezing my Shea butter lotion into the palm of my hands, he asks if he can have some too. And every time I give him a dab, he rubs his pudgy little hands together, takes a whiff and says, “Mmm, Mommy your lotion smells like soup!” Only he has an S impediment (Love!) so he says thoup.
Also when we went to Toys R Us last weekend to spend the gift cards from Mimi and Papa, while Deaglan took close to eight hours to deliberate on just the right thing (an Iron Man star tek armour set) Naveen walked straight to the bright pink aisles, found a sparkling fuchsia Minnie Mouse tea cart on wheels, fully equipped with three different cupcakes, a lazy Susan, and purple serving tray and declared without hesitation that this is what he'd be taking home.