‘Tis The Season to fill the Trolley?

I have lots of memories of Christmas as a child. I distinctly remember one year when I was about 7 or 8. I was desperate for a pool table. Not the girliest gift in the world I know, but I had a very rich friend who actually had a snooker room in her mansion house and we loved it in there. We’d play pool all day, but she’d always win! I really wanted to improve my skills and I begged for a pool table. My mum told me that I wasn’t going to get a pool table for Christmas, but I was okay as I put it as the only  request on my letter to Santa, so everything would work out wouldn’t it?!

When Christmas Day arrived, but my much longed for pool table didn’t, I was devastated. As well as feeling sad though, I also felt guilty as I knew my parents had tried to buy me things they thought I’d like, and were doing everything they could to make Christmas a special time, but I’d been so looking forward to having a pool table, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.

Fast forward about 18 years, and I’m seeing a 7 year old child opening their presents, which include a TV and DVD player for their bedroom, an ipod nano, a Nintendo DS, a PS3 and a huge trampoline. These gifts honestly were the tip of the iceberg, and at this point in my life I was married, but didn’t have any children. I remember thinking that this amount of generosity was ridiculous, particularly as the giver of these gifts was not employed or financially secure. I have also been talking to a number of students about Christmas, and items on their Christmas lists include a whole range of ridiculously expensive things. iPhone 4s (in many cases to replace iPhone 3s, not older bricks like mine!), high priced designer clothing, games consoles, musical instruments, and so the list goes on. But they aren’t expecting to get one of these, no they form the list, and they fully expect to receive each and every item, not because they’re being greedy, just because this is how things are.

Is it just me or are things going crazy? I’m finding myself in a real dilemma about the whole Christmas present thing now. I used to think that parents must be totally stupid to get themselves into thousands of pounds worth of debt just to satisfy their children’s letters to Santa, but seeing the glee filled expressions on my own children’s faces when they open the presents makes me a lot more able to understand why they do do it.

My 19 month old son and 3 year old daughter totally ‘get’ Christmas now. Harry loves presents and parties and Evie has written her first proper letter to Santa this year. We went to Toys R Us a few weeks back with the children to get a picture of things they would really like. The £250 Ferrari play car didn’t make the final cut, but a large number of other things did. The trouble was, I’ve been finding as a parent you do need to exert some self discipline. Every time I saw one of them playing with something, my heart just wanted to buy it and my head had to step in and resist!

Where do you draw the line? We’ve done our Christmas shopping for the children now, and have already done ‘just one more ‘little’ thing’ a couple of times, however, now my daughter has decided that the thing she wants, more than anything else is ‘Dancing Dora.’ To me, I think it’ll just be a little novelty, even though it’s the best part of £40, and my head tells me not to cave in, but my heart tells me that this could be my daughter’s equivalent of ‘pooltablegate’ from my own childhood, and therefore I should get it so she doesn’t think of this Christmas as ‘the year she didn’t get Dancing Dora!’

We’re probably going to buy it and ask someone in our family to give it to her, who haven’t bought anything yet, but what happens when the next thing she ‘really really wants more than anything in the world’ comes along? I’m going to have to be the evil mummy unless I want to be in debt for the next goodness knows how long! There must be a point when enough is enough, but when is that point? I guess the days when you got one main present, supplemented with a tube of Smarties and a satsuma are long gone!

And in case you were wondering, I never did get a pool table as a present, and still to this day I have never won a game!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. (mostly) yummy mummy
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 14:48:31

    This is a hard one and it is understandable to feel so torn. The fact is that the look on your child’s face when they open *that* present is priceless. But saying that, in the same breath I have to say that you have to draw the line somewhere – you just have to!
    I think it’s always hard to listen to your head over your heart but in the long run, I don’t think we do our children any favours by spoiling them.


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