Every year I ask my boys to write to Santa their wish gift list. Every year I beam when I read it.
They are boys who are truly fortunate and they are given a nice home, activities, vacations and plenty of toys (electronic and other) but they are also 11 and 9 and who are exposed to seeing things that are more than they need.
It is hard, not going to say in today's world as I am sure parents have struggled with this for a long time, to balance your want as a parent to give them the world, to have an explosion under the tree of gifts that their eyes grow exponentially from when they come downstairs vs the balance to not go so over the top they are beyond playing with anything.
I have done that - one year I ordered at the beginning of December, why you ask? because I got pushed into trying to be someone I am not. The person who orders, wraps and is all done by week two of December. That is not me. I am spontaneous, excellent results oriented procrastinator. So what happened I got all those lovely things, I hid them and about December 16 panicked that I had not bought things and went shopping. The result, impressive as there were no duplicates, ridiculous once I started wrapping and bringing up from the basement where I was doing said wrapping on 12/24. The kids were thrilled - they had gotten more than they could have ever expected - but they crashed after present 5 and it was time for a break. I mean you know you over did it when you need a break from present opening.
So I embraced my result oriented goal attaining procrastination style and shop last 2 weeks before Christmas. I do have to pick up small stuff in homage to the Jewish heritage from their dad's side as we do faux Hanukkah, dreidel song/latke/gifts/menorah out but we have yet to ever try and say anything about it. As an atheist for me it is all about joy of giving and enjoying the time with the family. For them it is one more part of who they are - a mashup (to use a term the kids use these days) of so may things that make them lots of things and none of one thing except themselves.
My kids lists - I cannot imagine, though I smile and nod, when people tell me the lists are long. I struggle with my sons' because they contain about 4-5 things, 2 usually are books of some kind, and the rest are usually like video games or a characters for the video games. How am I supposed to fill the granparental need to buy stuff from a list so short? I usually smile, deep breath, and get a little misty every year. They are awesome in their understanding, which they have told me, that they are already fortunate and that any gift they get is just a bonus. I guess those times at Target when I said no to impulse buys and told them I only had enough money for the stuff in the cart made an impression. This year they wrote extensive letters to Santa asking (no prodding on my end and they both did it) him how he was, saying they thought it was nice that he delivered gifts but who buys him gifts and asking him if he wants to leave a note about what he wants so that their mom could ship it to him. PROUD mom moment.
It is all good to indulge our kids as we can as long as we know we are raising kids who appreciate the lollipop as much as that iphone they got considered by many much too young. It is ok to teach them joy and enjoyment and enough extra to make a gift seem special. I do not want to tell them about starving children, wars, materialism and all that other stuff that some people just love to throw out to suck the joy out of every holiday. What's the point ? They hear about that enough, sadly. Who wants to live with just enough to get them by - that's a grey world and I am fuschia girl, well ok fuschia but dressed in black as am NYC woman. It is all good to have a foot long list and not get everything on it just as much as it is to get more than you thought you would. I am not parenting to make socially conscious kids who eschew the awesome feeling of having and doing things just for the pure pleasure it gives you.
This year I wish that every gift makes someone smile. I hope that everyone gets at least one thing they do not need. Can you also drop off a little sprinkle of common sense as you fly over the world? Mostly do not stop being the magic of Christmas - however, you celebrate this season do that - celebrate the wonder of giving, getting and get a little frisky under the mistletoe -- life is better when we focus on enjoying it and good kissing.