Thursday, January 5, 2012

Not keeping up with the Jones'

My heart broke a little last night.  I cried inside for my daughter.  My eldest daughter (who is 12) was sad and crying last night because of Christmas.  This was the first year that she realized that some other families get bigger, more expensive, and just more things for Christmas. 

You may or may not know this about me, but I do not like Christmas at all for this very reason.  Christmas has been warped and distorted and disfigured into something not at all what it is supposed to be about.  I refuse to participate in the disgusting consumerism and waste that is Christmas now.  I budget and plan to spend around $300-400 per kid on the holiday.  I think that is reasonable and doable and it's what I choose to do.  I know others do waaaaayyyy more than that and that is fine.  It is just not fine for my family. 

The kids were happy with their gifts this year, the big gift was a Wii.  This is a huge deal in our family because we have never had any video games.  My husband and I don't like what they do to kids and the time that is wasted sitting in front of the TV or screen playing.  The kids do have a DS which they use mostly for car rides and plane trips.  So the Wii was a huge step for us and the kids were super excited. 

That is until this week.  When everyone goes back to school and the first question out of everyone's mouth is, "What did you get for Xmas?".  I guess the big gift around this area was the Kindle Fire which multiple kids in multiple families each got.  And apparently the Wii is pretty unimpressive to those that already have them.

So she is crying to me, sad about all the other cool gifts that the kids at school were bragging about getting and jealous (she admitted this feeling to me) about what she didn't get.  --Here's where parenting is really hard.-- 

How do you explain that Christmas is not about things?  It's about family, and friends and spending time with them and giving to others.  (which we do, but I really feel now, that we need to do more.  And something more meaningful, like donating time rather than just money.)  Christmas is about being thankful for what you have.  And sharing your good fortune with others.  I went on with telling her that there are always people who are going to have more, and always people who are going to have less.  We choose to spend less of our money on 'stuff' and more of our money on experiences like taking trips, going to sports camps, boating, fishing etc. 
Even as adults we still deal with this.  That person who get a new car every year or two.  Or always has the biggest tv going, or the newest clothes, shoes whatever.  You just can't keep up.  Nor should you feel the need to. 

I'm sorry and glad that she is learning this lesson.  Sorry that she has to feel sad about the gifts she received.   Sad that she feels like what she has isn't enough.  When in fact, she has more than enough and is so much more fortunate than she realizes.  Glad that she was able to talk about her feelings with me.   Glad that I think she understands, even if she still feels sad. 

Do you keep up with the Jones'?

Are you the Jones'? 

Parents:  Have you had to have this discussion with your children?  How did you handle it?


Nitsirk said...

We are not, nor do we keep up with the Jones'. We set a similar budget for our son, maybe even less since he is still pretty young. I have been to homes where the kids have easily twice as many toys as my son and felt badly for a bit. Then I realize that my kid is perfectly happy and get over it. Sometimes being a parent is so hard.

Christi said...

This is exactly why I don't like Christmas either!

Unknown said...

just keep letting them know that the holiday is not about Gifts. it's a tough one, im sure. Lola is only 3 so we have a ways to go. but i totally agree with you
I don't care what the Jones' are doing. Im too busy being happy being ME

Lisa said...

I'm totally anti-Jones. What a tough job parenting must be. I think personally that you're right on and that your daughter will be stronger for it (though of course no way to convince her of that now). I grew up with minimal stuff and today, I value what I do have but don't place a huge value on it.