Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Curing Affluenza

We're not wealthy. Maybe by world standards, I think most Americans are, compared to, say, Haiti or Bangladesh. But we don't want for much, and therefore consider ourselves blessed.

Even so, every year when the idea of Christmas comes creeping into that dark crevice that grows and expands by the week, nagging and taunting me to GET MOVING, I cringe inside. Here it comes. The STUFF. The move-out-the-old-stuff and make-room-for-new-stuff tango I think we all do from Halloween until after Christmas when we finally figure out where to put more STUFF.

I'm tired of it. Christmas is a lovely time for my family. We celebrate the joy of the holiday as it was meant to be, being Catholic, and cherishing the true meaning of it. But still, over the years, the STUFF has become more than I can bear. You see, we have 6 kids. Six awesome, smart, rambunctious, goofy, normal, happy kids. Did I mention they all have the most gorgeous ginger heads you have ever seen? It makes me want to buy them MORE STUFF. And it's going to change. And so, I've laid down the gauntlet.

I posed it to my husband, who's eyes grew larger by the second, and I could see the "how are the kids going to react to this" look in his eye. It, being my plan. This year, the money we would spend on presents for them, and each other, would go to a charity, and we would all decide as a family where it would go. No, it's not ground breaking, but for us, it kind of is. We give as much as we can to others, but this would be bigger. A well for a village. A cow for a family. A lot of food for our local food pantry. Something. Anything but more stuff. I felt sure they would see the good and be all for it. They did not disappoint. So far.

Son the true form of a leader, nodded, and said, "sure." I expected that. It's the kind of kid he is, and at 17, doesn't ask for much. Daughter, child #2....same thing. No hesitation from child #3 or 4. Perfect. I have not raised them as indulged people, they earn money, and have to buy their own amusements. They don't have cell phones, and have bought most of their own electronics.

I have not approached the 7 or 4 year old yet. Ok, I'm a little intimidated (small children can be SCARY!!). My plan included buying a family game for Christmas Eve, and one video game for them on Christmas morning. I'm considering little stocking stuffers, just for giggles, little goofy things. I'll need strength to resist overbuying! I think they are going to survive, I really do. In the end, perhaps on Christmas Day, when the reality of it hits the young ones, I won't be the most popular mom on the planet, but this lesson is for the long haul. Curing affluenza.


  1. What we've done the past 2 years is explain to the kids how there are other kids whose parents don't have the money to buy them toys. We tell them they're going to the store and they get to pick out one toy each that THEY would want, then we're going to give it to a charity that will give the toys to less-fortunate kids. They've both really enjoyed it and we follow it up by teaching them about the gift Jesus gave to us. It hasn't cured them of wantitis, but I think it does help them to remember to think of others.

  2. That's an awesome habit to get into. We do angel trees every year, man, it does get pricy, usually choose 1 tag for each kid. I don't mind doing that. I just feel like it's gotten to the point where, even in my extended family, we might as well just write each other a check and do our own shopping lol. I'm making gifts. Thanks for responding!

  3. We've cut back a lot and really all enjoy the holiday and each more because of it. I would love to know how this turned out, especially with the little ones!

  4. It worked out well! I didn't scale back as much as I had intended, I got them each a couple of small gifts, and the PS3 game. Stockings were pretty light lol. But we were able to send $500 to Cross International (I love them), and the kids were totally happy. Next year, I have to train MYSELF on more restraint. That was the hardest part. Hubby had a really hard time. He had no problem with sending the money, but with NOT buying more stuff. Now I know where our problem lies lol! I spent a LOT less money, even with the charity!