Despite the fact that one of her sons thinks she is the meanest mom in the world, a good friend has informed the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. that if they want to buy her children gifts they must be books, clothing, gift cards, etc. Toys will be returned or donated because her children have more than enough toys. She has also sent each of her young children a letter from Santa where Santa has explained to the boys that, although they have been very good boys, times are tough in this world and we need to think of those in need.
Personally, I think my friend is the most caring person in the world and I'm proud to see that she is working to make her children just as caring. I hear people on the commute back and forth to work telling each other about the latest phone, computer, video game, etc. that their kids 'need' and I get so angry. No kid 'needs' those things. What they need is to understand how good they have it with a roof over their heads and food in the fridge. It would do them good if those parents did as my friend is doing.
By sooz from Toronto, ON
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As a grandparent I applaud your friend. And I agree with you wholeheartedly! We have become a society of instant gratification and debt. I have come to realize what a disservice each generation has done to their children by trying to "give them what we didn't have".
I completely disagree with your friend. There is a completely different way to go if you really want to teach your children to share and teach them something. Instead of telling people what they can and cannot buy is rude. What she should do is, her and each child go through that child's toys and have him/her pick out several that are not broken and explain that these toys will be going to children who don't have much. They will learn a lot more by being a part of it instead of having santa do her ugly work
Sooz you are listening to other peoples conversations and judging them. You don't know what those kids need. This is Christmas let children enjoy it because as they get older life is harder.
It would seem that some people think they can tell others how to feel about toys. This is a personal matter for each set of parents to decide. No one can say if someone elses child should get toys or not.
That is the a wonderful idea. We have a daughter in University in Toronto. This year on Christmas Day my family and I are volunteering to serve Christmas Dinner to those in need, something I wish we had made a tradition when our kids were smaller. We have been blessed with a wonderful family and time we gave back. Your friend is teaching her children a valuable lesson.
Amen Sooz! And if children do receive a gift card they can purchase their own toy(s) with it if they choose to do so. Even the Wise Men brought Baby Jesus practical gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh!
'Christ's Mass' is not about material gift giving and gift receiving but rather about celebrating the life and gift of Christ's suffering for us and not about spending a load of money to retailers of which so many people cannot afford to do and end up putting themselves in debt doing. :-(
Please don't get me wrong, Santa is fun and giving and receiving can be fun but we all need to keep it in perspective and appreciation of the spirit and meaning of the giving and receiving and we need to teach the children what is truly important and what is not.
I have to question parents who can live with themselves on Christmas morning when they have not bought the children toys for Christmas and not only that but told other people not to. I hope someone gives these children some toys. Most parents enjoy picking out the toys and wrapping them and watching the children open the gifts. I must say I am horrified.
It is a true Gift that is hand made with love. Children today have so much they don't use or play with a third of it. I agree that most families would benefit with a good cleaning out of the toy boxes . Share with those that do not have two of everything in the store. We all want more for our children in life than we had. However, we have to teach them to live within their means also or we'll be doing them a great disservice. Teaching them to earn their own money to buy their toys is a good way to teach them the value of what they have and want. Grandparents/great grandparents can put the money into college funds or trusts for when they will really need money.
Depending on ages, of course, Santa shouldn't let little ones down. I know some of you will not understand this story. My mother told me just a few years before she passed at 85, that when she was a child she had only a few pieces of broken dishes to "play house" with. She took pieces of string tied together, then tied to bushes and trees for her house. She was so happy to get a pretty blue hair ribbon. She was so tiny that they didn't let her go to school until she was 8 yrs old. 7-8 olds have cell phones now. Think about what they will need next year, because all their friends have it. "If their friends jump off a bridge would you follow them?".
While I realize that Christmas is a religious holiday and not really meant for lavish and over priced gifts, there can be "guidelines" for lack of a better word for gift giving. I agree with Teresa Kay, go through their old toys with them and donate them to those less fortunate. Let people give them what they want, the parents can sort out the toys, let them have some now and put away some for later. Then just rotate them. Most of the time, they don't even know what they got, this way it looks like new toys.
A little child wants to open up a present, a gift card just isn't going to cut it. When I was a kid, my parents didn't have much money and we received toys, not mounds of them, but enough to make us feel special and not left out.
Unfortunately, in today's world, children are given everything they want and then more. Parents try to be their "friend", you can't, you are a parent. Set guidelines, teach them responsibility, let them have fun and toys but within reason.
They may not need to open 25 gifts, a few will not hurt them.
Why not ask a relative to send only one toy and/or suggest books? This is too extreme. The kids will start counting the day until they can make their own choices, because here the choice is being taken from them. There are many ways the family could work together to help others (volunteering, gathering gifts for the elderly, etc.) without saying no more toys and dictating what others would do.
I applaud your friend for taking the no toy stance. If her children have more than enough, than clothes and books are great for Christmas, or any other thing more educational. Or money to place into a savings account where those children can see their money grow instead of being spent in an hour with nothing of value to show for it.
For the past couple of generations, society has become a greedy, give me, give me, give me, place where parents give, give, and give and then those children grow into huge baby adults with no sense of financial boundaries.
If these kids are young enough to believe in Santa, they are certainly going to wonder why they didn't get even one toy, and other kids at school received tons. How is mom going to answer that one? Unless this is a family that has gone completely overboard in the past with toys, perhaps a little moderation in the toy stance might have been better. Perhaps Santa could have given a toy, and the relatives the "useful" gifts. And really, a gift card, for a little kid? That is like no gift at all. How can one play with a gift card on Christmas morning?
I suggest your friend read "Hoodoo McFiggins Christmas" by Stephen Leacock. It may give her a better perspective on how children view useful gifts at Christmas.
That being said, I do think that special clothes, books, games, sports equipment, jewelery, even fancy bedding in cartoon characters that a child likes all make great gifts too. But a toy or two isn't overdoing it either. Moderation is the key.
I knew the moment I read the title that this was going to have a lot of different opinions!
Kudos to your friend and all who follow her train of thought. Our society we are raising is presumed to be an entitled one. Many of us struggle with normal daily expenses, many households are without jobs. You maintain what you can for holiday spirit, music/singing, stories of family, making gifts. Many times growing (our mom tells us now) that she would go to the toy box and scrub up a doll from the past, do nail polish, fix the hair, sew or knit an outfit for it. All my friends had the latest doll, Barbie doll when I was about 1st grade. I did not get one till I was in 6th grade. She (Midge) is one of my cherished possessions in my memory drawer. My baby doll I got in 2nd grade is also there--many years without a special item made her even more special.
We all knew we got new flannel jammies sewn with care. There were 5 of us kids. My mom, grandma, aunts, all sewed our clothing and so it was a treat to have your mom tell you to go to the store and pick out a pattern, then look for material. No big box store but the store on the front street--which many of us in small towns grew up knowing.
We also knew our needs. We waited for the clothing boxes from the older cousins, but what we waited to do most of all was box up our clothes we outgrew and deliver them to another needy family. That was tearful joy. Only my dad would take them in as we were in school with the kids, and as anyone, they had pride too. But the mom would always hug you when she saw you in the store.
My children grew up and had opportunity to travel to Minneapolis to work in Mary's Shelter there. That wiped any ideas of any greed right out of their heads permanently. We participate in the Toys for Tots programs. Sometimes we sew nice warm special blankets, my kids/granddaughter pick out special materials. They are the first to be picked when moms come to choose gifts for their children.
My 4 yr old granddaughter's wish for Christmas was for new socks (like her older sister), warm mittens (knitted from great grandma--which we purchase the yarn and send to her). There were no toys on her list. The 8 year old was even better yet--hoping we could do something for others who do not have.
They go through their outgrown clothes (again, we have a family who hands down what they outgrow) and the girls can't wait to see what is in the next box.
Our neighbors have struggled income wise--we go to the store and bring home a turkey gotten with our purchase points.
We participate in Food Shelf Drives--my son's class of 25 students gathered 20 lbs each (food shelf weighed it). It was explained to them when they all got to take it to the center where this food goes. I know there have been some in his class who have benefited from the food baskets prepared.
I pick up hats and mittens (why is it boys lose theirs more than girls?) at the end of the winter season, bring them to the local elementary school for the office/counselor office to hand out to the children who come to school without. Something special from another grandma.
If my own children truly wanted something, they found jobs to buy it. As adults they have money, but desires are not the latest of what ever. Substance and stability of home life is important.
We do books, picking out patterns and fabric and make what the girls would like. I find out what the boys need--lately it has been, "MOM, PATCH THIS AND THAT"--so I do. Or make a special pan of a bar/cookies they desire.
I have many old friends who are my parents age and I try to think of things for them. Often a grocery list picked up and purchased. Maybe tissues and hand lotion. They grew up without and are often forgotten at Christmas--but they don't think of it as being missed.
For my own parents, 79 and 82, don't have desires of gifts, so I listen to them when we talk over the phone (live in another state) and I make mental lists of what my mom says she need to put on lists, what recipes she uses (I pick up the grocery list and then some of staples.) I have done this the last couple years and they have cupboards full for several months. Whether you can afford the drugstore or the milk/bread at the grocery store should not have to be a choice. It is for many.
The Christmas spirit should live within us all every day of the year. The special gift we should wish for is inner peace and goodwill for others.
So to be disappointed for a SANTA GIFT when you should be emulating the spirit of Santa--not with material things, but with the way you live, and in our our house, CHRIST is always in Christmas.
My heart is breaking for those children just reading about the idea of no toys for Christmas, as posted by Sooz and applauded by the many other heartless respondents. What you think now is such a wonderful and thrifty (or whatever you wish to call it) idea, but I say it is pure meanness and spite. And that is exactly how you will be perceived by your children. Thank you, Lilac, for being the only other sane feedback on this subject.
Oh, and by the way, I would love to have Sooz and the others write and tell us all what your Christmas' are like, when your children are grown with their own families and having to remember their Christmas mornings, and how their parents took the anticipation, joy, and childhood away from them. I guarantee you will all be sitting home alone wondering why you weren't invited to share in the wide-eyed joy of your grandchildren on Christmas morning. As the respondent, Lilac, so aptly stated, "I must say I am horrified."
PS - I am 58 years old, and I can I remember every joyful minute of every Christmas I had as a child. To have but one of those minutes back would be what I would call Heaven.
Amen to this idea! Kids with a whole lot of toys wind up playing with only the same few anyway, most toys stifle creativity, many perpetrate violence (guns) or dangerous unrealistic self-image issues (Barbies). Gift cards can be used after Christmas to buy toys parents see as appropriate. Even a new book with a gift card or cash tucked inside is great. Christmas is not about having and getting stuff and too many people, adults as well as children, don't understand this. This is the era of entitlement. A Christmas morning with gifts to unwrap, and if those gifts are appropriate as parents see them, is wonderful. Light the fireplace, sip hot chocolate, play Christmas music-that is what memories are made of!
Thank you LuannD. I like your idea of letting all who think kids should not get toys for christmas tell about their holidays as a child. I wonder how many smoke or drink and then don't want to "indulge their kids". I could go on and on.
I'm surprised by the posters who feel that having gift cards, books and clothing as gifts are a bad thing and will spoil Christmas morning.
I grew up in a 'dirt-poor' farming family and I have wonderful memories of my Christmases. My mother would have hand-made me new mittens, scarf and hat that I could show off at school. My grandparents would give me a dollar. Big money in those days. My siblings and I would exchange gifts that we made. We would have a wonderful big breakfast, play games, have hot cocoa and then everyone would pitch in to get dinner started. Once our city cousins arrived, off we went tobogganing and skating on the pond.
Gee, I don't feel horrified at all for not waking up to mounds of toys.
Furthermore, I'm not judging anyone that has a conversation on my commute about what they are buying their kids. I'm commenting on the fact that they make it quite clear that they think the importance of raising their children is to make sure they have the latest technology and that Christmas means spending lots of money on them. Kids nowadays feel they are entitled. I work at a leading university ... I see entitlement every day from young adults. Maybe if those parents and their children spent time together, there would not be this great need of having the latest gizmo. They would be happy with their own and their family's company.
I'm sorry those posters who think it's terrible Santa will only be leaving my friends children useful items rather than more toys are offended. I think Santa would frown upon you for thinking those in need shouldn't get the toys those that are not in need don't get. Her children are learning that there is more to life than getting everything they want. They are learning that there are other boys and girls that would appreciate the toys they no longer 'need' and play with.
She is so "kind" that she sent a letter to her children from Santa telling them they wont be getting any toys for Christmas? This is a very strict and rigid way of teaching children what could have been a beautiful concept. Bless their little hearts. What a way to learn.
I see a lot of letters applauding the idea of not buying toys for other people but I have not seen a letter from anyone saying they were not going to buy their children any. Some children are spoiled by indulgence but most are not. Most look forward to Christmas and most parents buy toys within reason and the family has a nice Christmas. No toys, when you can afford to buy them is heartless and it seems like there is not much love there.
Sooz, I applaud the spirit of giving you and your friend are showing in these tough times. I was deeply offended by my grandson's mercenary attitude last Christmas, he was disappointed that he "only" got a cell phone and an Ipod knockoff as gifts? He didn't even count the new clothes, shoes and cash as gifts? Egads! My Depression-era hubby was thrilled if he got more than a single orange and apple! Although some might think the Santa letter a bit much (I'm torn on that issue,) a lot of well-off kids would benefit from spending some time volunteering at a homeless shelter this year. That might help them understand better why Santa isn't loading them up with hundreds of dollars' worth of toys their parents would still be paying off 18 months from now.
It's obvious that sooz doesn't have children! Giving children too much is not what makes them spoiled. Teaching them value, kindness, generosity, empathy, etc. IS. I have a 13 year old Grandson that I buy things for "computer, software, hardware, etc) because his parents can't afford them and I can. He never asks for anything and I don't regret the things I've bought for him. I don't believe in buying everything that comes on the market and trying to keep up with the "Jones'" all in moderation. In addition these things are educational and very useful in today's environment if they are to succeed. If my Grandson was a spoiled unappreciative brat it would be a different story. It brings me joy to see how appreciative he is and how much he's learned. And no toys at Christmas, I can't see the logic!
By the way, all children at some point think their Mom is mean. And there is nothing wrong with computers and telephones, etc. This is the world we live in. I wonder how young this child is that's she's talking about. All young children only think of themselves and their wants. Even a very young child can learn a great deal from a computer and I see no harm in learning. And I see no harm in a teen having a cell phone. It depends on the situation, the parent, AND the teen. If this Mom has a spoiled, unappreciative son she needs to ask herself how he got this way and denying toys at Christmas as a form of punishment will not fix the situation; it's bigger than that.
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