My husband’s family celebrates Christmas twice a year. The weekend before Christmas everyone gathers at his grandparent’s house, exchanges presents and eats dinner. Then on actual Christmas, we do an ‘immediate family only’ gift exchange, drive to his Uncle’s house and eat dinner again. The reason behind all of this is completely appalling:
Simply put, my oldest niece is a spoiled brat.
My oldest niece is living proof that materialism warps children. She’s been plowed with so many presents over the years that she has piles of crap in the basement she’s never even opened. Every Christmas my in laws scour the stores for the perfect present to impress Her Royal Highness with only to earn an eye roll and a shrug for their trouble. I mean, you may have bought her the hippest CD on the market (according to the salesperson at Best Buy), but her parents just gave her a Karaoke machine, diamond earrings, a Sidekick and a laptop. How do you compete with that?
Instead of teaching her how to accept a gift graciously, the family decided to orchestrate an entirely separate ‘early’ Christmas where everyone has an equal shot at impressing her without competition from her parents.
This year, I plan to give her $25 in Visa gift card formation. If she doesn’t like it, I have no qualms about snatching it back and using it to fill up my gas tank. I’ll be damned if I’m going to stress out over a 13 year old ingrate with a diva complex.
When I was but a wee tot, I received a pair of hand knitted gloves with a matching scarf and hat from my Aunt Ethel on my 7th birthday. I snidely informed her that her present was ‘sorta ugly’ before I moved on to my next gift. That night, when the party ended, my Father took every present I had and locked them up in a closet. He told me that if I couldn’t accept a gift politely and with poise, then I didn’t deserve to have them. He left them in that closet for a full month and when I tell this story to friends, they are horrified that my Father punished me so harshly on my birthday.
However, my Father felt that making sure I had a happy 7th was not as important as teaching me a valuable life lesson. Namely, that it’s not cool to spit in the face of people trying to be kind to you.
Parents, you are doing your children no favors by spoiling them. I realize the majority of you are operating under some misguided notion that your children should have all the things that you never had, but did you ever stop to consider that not having everything your little heart desired is what taught you the value of things and inspired your work ethic? Designer children are nice to look at, sure, but they are in for a rude awakening when they enter the real world and find out that no one else is interested in re-writing the calendar to ensure their happy holidays.
Perhaps the tortured creatures will take up mommyblogging?
Last weekend, I casually asked my Mother-in-Law why she participates in spoiling all the children. Her response? “I just want them all to like me.”
And here we have another interesting parenting phenomenon: The creation of the Best Friend Parent. You can normally find the Best Friend Parent cleaning her child’s room while bragging on the phone to her friends that her daughter tells her everything. Her daughter can be found behind a shed at the city park getting pearl necklaces from half the school football team while simultaneously chugging from a bottle of cheap vodka. But hey! At least she can toke up with her Mother later and discuss the experience! After all, they have that kind of a relationship.
The cool Mom’s are always well liked. But when their children reach adult age, they are usually well liked from behind the glass of a high security prison. Does it matter if your kid thinks you’re totally awesome if they’re smacked out on heroin and living in the gutter?
Your children will make plenty of friends growing up. But you are the only one entrusted with teaching them how to become functioning, successful adults. How can you do that if you’re too busy catering to their every whim to notice that they’ve become insufferably boorish little monsters?
I didn’t attend Early Christmas this year, so on Actual Christmas, I will receive my gifts from my in laws. Someone started a vicious ugly lie that I collect scented candles, so I’m positive that I’ll gain a few more to shove under my kitchen sink in case of a power outage. I’ll also probably receive a few bottles of antibacterial soap and a Christmas ornament or two for my non existent Christmas tree. And every time I open one of my gifts, I will enthusiastically exclaim, “Thanks so much! I love it!” I will say this not out of genuine excitement over Bath and Body lotion, but because my Father cared enough about me to teach me basic manners and the concept of accepting gifts graciously.
Because he never tried to be my friend, he ended up being one hell of a Dad.
- More Gift Giving and the Last Psychiatrist
- Fuck the Cheerleader; Buy a Gift Card, Save the World
- A Modern Day Convenience? Or Raping Your Friends for Fun and Profit? Examining the Intricacies of Gift Registries and Amazon Wish Lists
- School Pictures and Prezzles
- I’m Not the Only One Who Can’t Stand Liz Pulliam Weston