Term started today for D3.
The house was so quiet without her, but I occupied myself with taking down the Christmas decorations and sorting a glitch with my ISP , at a cost of 50p per minute on the telephone. Gulp.
When I went to pick D3 up from school, several of the mums were commenting that their children had received so many presents that they still hadn`t played with half of them.
One boy had a new bike costing around £100 amongst his many presents, and didn`t even go to the garage to unwrap it until New Year`s Day........
Lots of the parents spend well in excess of £150 on each child, which I find staggering, especially as one family are on welfare benefits, with five children and they spend at least £250 on each child.........
Ours have a ceiling of £50 per child, period.
The younger ones are told that we set aside that sum of money, and that their gifts brought by St Nicholas will not exceed that amount, so they do not get the idea that they can ask for anything and everything, and expect to receive it.
It works well for us; the children look at catalogues etc to get an idea of what is available and the cost, and they then write a letter to St Nicholas with their Christmas wish list. They have an idea of what they will realistically get, and we get an idea of what they would really like to have.
I do shop around to get bargains; we have a discount mail-order book firm which sells 10 large format full colour paperback story books by top writers, for pre-schoolers, for £9.99 for instance. That gives a child 10 parcels to unwrap for a start :-)
Invariably we will get a few small extras for each child, but this past Christmas, D3 could not make up her mind what she would like, so she wrote a very sweet letter to St Nicholas, just asking for a nice surprise.......and yes, she was very happy with her books, puzzles, Barbie DVD and doll etc.
The Christmas letter also gives us ideas of what presents other family members can buy for the children too.
D4, aged 3, was "presented-out" after about 6 parcels this year ! When handed the 7th parcel, she looked at me, shook her head and said "No more, Mummy!" She had had enough, and just wanted to enjoy what she had already got. The rest of the presents were postponed till the next day, and that way, each present was played with and enjoyed properly.
Two of the best-loved and most-used presents were the vile rubber chicken which lays an egg when its tummy is squeezed, and a colour-coded chime-bar set with integral music notation and colour-coding (according to ability) song book. Total cost of these two presents ? Less than £10.
Large presents like a new bike , for instance, will be given at birthdays.
I want my kids to grow up to remember Christ`s birth, and joy and laughter and family fun at Christmas time. It seems to have worked with D1 now 18 and 1/2, so perhaps I am on the right track - I hope !