children · home · relationships · Step 4: Cutting Costs

…and then right before Santa comes…

…we frugal, inventive parents have a moment of anxiety. “I got her too little stuff!” “This pile is way too tiny!” “What was I thinking, getting him so many books, free from the library’s used pile at that?”

lol. Yep, this is par for the course. For many of us, swimming against the current of the mainstream causes us a shiver of self-doubt now and then. “Is this okay? Is it really enough?”

Yeah, it is. Most of us are never going to give more to our kids than the most excessive family does -there will always be a kid with a bigger pile. What happens, then, if we let go of the Joneses as a measure of success and sufficiency?

…we give our children the opportunity to be satisfied with a reasonable amount of material goods.

…we have room and time and relaxation sufficient for cuddling, playing board games, singing, and swimming with them.

…we build memories of peace, ease, and laughter.

…we wrap up the holiday with savings abundant enough to support our children into our next shared season.

…we preserve enough to share with people in actual need.

…we create enough space in our children’s lives for creativity, imagination, and connection.

A heckuvalot of gifts, to be sure.

“Santa” having a fleeting experience of uh-oh does not indicate Santa should spend more. It means Santa is successfully countering cultural norms in favour of her child’s well-being. Awesome!

One thought on “…and then right before Santa comes…

  1. I love the idea of re-imagining the measure of holiday gift-giving success! Thanks Joon! So, I just now counted, and I gave 29 gifts this Christmas season, and spent a few pennies shy of $600. Lower than last year, but still more than I feel comfortable having spent on “tradition” and the physical expression of my esteem and care for loved ones. There are other ways to communicate these positive emotions than spending hundreds of dollars on stuff. (None of my gifts were experiences either, just…stuff! Not that THAT is bad, but for the price I paid, wow.)

    $600 is a plane ticket to Europe! $600 is rent for one month for a person who just lost their job! $600 buys a college class, a nice contribution to a retirement account, 12 tanks of gasoline, a year’s worth of membership in a fancy gym complete with hot tub and pool, season tickets to theater, several months of music or dance lessons, and crazy amounts of supplies for handcrafting-type hobby supplies. I’m just thinking out loud of other ways I could have potentially used that money. But no shame, no blame. Just…learning as I continue on my path. This year I spent less than I did last year. Progress! I will endeavor to bring the amount I spend on physical gifts down for next year while increasing positive emotions and honoring/building relationships.

    Happy Christmas!!


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