Most families have holiday traditions and one of my favorite traditions was always getting to open ONE gift on Christmas Eve. The anxiety of picking JUST ONE was always daunting. To me, it set the tone to what the other gifts were going to be and, I admit, I was a child who wanted this and this and this. But I never said it out loud, my parents would light a fire under my behind.
Like most people, I made a mental list of things I would “allow” my children to do that my parents did not “allow” me to do. That was until I became a mother. Then that infamous saying my mom would say played like a broken record, “Sang, one day you will get it!”
Back then, in my head, my response was: “Yeah, right. No I won’t. This is how I am going to do it because I said so and you won’t be there to tell me what to do anymore.”
Needless to say, when I became a mother, I got it and mom was right. Moms always win. Always.
As a single mother, the holidays stressed me out. How was I going to pay the bills AND buy gifts. As the kids got older, their lists were getting longer and more expensive every year. As did their extra curricular activities. My daughter was (and still is) a competitive dancer which costs several thousand pretty shiny pennies and my son is (and still is) an all-around athlete playing football, competitive baseball, and basketball all of which are rather costly. But, I make it work and, back then, I worked as many hours as I could to make ends meet.
I would miss holiday parties, I would work late, I would go to work early — I did whatever needed to be done to make sure my kids could do their thing. Why? Because my parents didn’t allow me to do THAT and they sure as heck were not going to pay for all that.
When my kids turned 10 and 13, I started a new gift rule at Christmas. At first, I was not quite sure how they were going to take it. I sat them down right after my son’s birthday in October to break the news.
I told them that from now on, for Christmas, they would be receiving three (3) gifts a piece.
1. Something you want
2. Something you need
3. And a Surprise
I went on to explain to them why I was doing this. I told them that because they were allowed to participate in their numerous activities year round and as a mother, I made sure they had everything they needed and sometimes wanted. From socks to undergarments to the TV’s in their rooms. They received near everything a kid would ever want or need.
The new gift rule applied to me too. They were to partner up and purchase things together.
They agreed and said, “Ok, Mom.”
No questions. No argument. No “oh man’s.”
And so it began. The 3-gift rule.
Fast forward 4 years, my kids are now 14 and 17 and we still follow this rule. They get it. They appreciate it. They are more selective in their list making. And best of of all, the holiday season is no longer stressful.