No, we are not heartless parents. Nor are we grinches who want to deprive our child of the holiday spirit. In fact, I love everything about the season; the lights, the flavors, the closeness, and the magic. I love it so much that our Christmas Tree goes up the first week of November. When December 25th comes around, there will be plenty of gifts under the tree. While there will be gifts for Apollo, not one will come from us… This is why we don’t get our toddler Christmas (or birthday) gifts.
We didn’t start off with these intentions. It came about accidentally during his first Christmas. Apollo was two months old and we traveled back East for the holidays. After the gifts were exchanged and wrapping paper littered the floor, I looked up at my husband as I realized something. We did not get Apollo a single gift that year.
The thought sunk in for a moment but, to my surprise, guilt did not follow. At that moment, we were surrounded by family, our bellies were fed, and our bodies warm. And he was also 2 months old – he had no idea what the hell was going on. Now that he’s 2 years old, he still doesn’t.
We are fortunate to have the ability to come home for the holidays every year. There, we have endless family members who love to shower him with gifts. While I prefer that people don’t get him anything, they do anyway. So we ask to keep it simple.
And don’t get it twisted thinking “poor little boy with no Christmas presents”. We’re not “well off” by any means, but we are fortunate in comparison to most of the world. As a mom blogger, Apollo gets sent plenty of toys and clothes from brands we partner up with. When he is in need of something throughout the year, we get it for him. He’s “good”.
Perhaps my main issue with the holidays is the excess. A recent poll revealed that the average American spends about $330 on gifts per child. $330! While my husband is the frugal one, that number seems astronomical for me. And unsustainable factoring inflation and if we are fortunate enough to have another child. How do people afford this?
My husband and I come from humble beginnings. We were both born in the Philippines to young parents doing their best to get by. Gift examples from back then include apples and new socks. So I understand the idea of compensating for what we lacked in our childhood. At the same time, it was those humble gifts that taught us appreciation for receiving something in general. Nowadays, I witness kids open piles and piles of gifts without so much as a glance on the gift tag. And with toys/gadgets being more and more extravagant, I’ve seen the disappointment in faces when they open simple things like books or clothes. That doesn’t fly with me.
From where I stand, this season has turned into teaching expectation versus appreciation.
So for now, we’re holding off on gifts until he is old enough to comprehend receiving and expressing gratitude. When he’s older and at an age when his peers compare and contrast the holiday loot, I’m certain this will change – to a degree. We’re big believers in gifting experiences versus things. So in the future, we’ll steer family to experience driven gifts such as swimming classes and state park passes. But until then, we’re working on teaching him to be the Santa; relishing in the act of giving and spreading the joy.