I was going to wait until closer to Thanksgiving to write about this, but after what happened yesterday, I’d like to share it today.
If you follow me on Facebook, then you may have already seen this post from yesterday (had to do three screenshots because it’s long — but funny!):
So the kids found the damn robes and that kind of backfired on me.
But what I want to share isn’t that story, but how my kids reacted.
You know we’ve struggled financially in the last few years and we are just coming out of that.
Three years ago the community rallied around us and we received about $1000 in gift cards, anonymously, from a bunch of different people, and we went from not knowing how we’d give our kids a Christmas to being able to get just about anything we wanted for them.
And we got a lot.
Two years ago a friend of mine reached out to her community, and she collected a ton of gifts, and drove them over to my house.
I was blown away.
She had all of this in her car!
We had so much stuff that I couldn’t even bring myself to give it all to the kids.
And they still got an assload of presents.
Last year, we decided to scale things way back.
We did this for a number of reasons.
First, I had recently started to declutter the house. We had so much crap! It was everywhere. The kids didn’t even know how much stuff they had.
And so I didn’t want to just fill the house back up with a whole bunch of new stuff.
Secondly, my husband had started a new job, and we were climbing out of the money pit of despair, but we were still on a very tight budget.
And the last reason was that for the first time, I genuinely recognized that the more things the kids received, the less grateful they were!
There was an inverse relationship between number of things and appreciation for the things.
The more things the kids got, the more things they expected to get.
In the past, with each gift they opened, they rushed onto the next one. They had no gratitude for what they were receiving, really. They were just on a mad dash to find out how many more things they were getting.
So, like I said in my Facebook post yesterday, we adopted the something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read Four Christmas Gift Rule.
I wasn’t so sure how this would go over with the kids, but I wanted them to be prepared.
The younger five still believe in Santa. So I told them I had spoken to Santa. I told them I let him know we only wanted four gifts for each of the kids.
They took this news pretty well. At first a couple of them asked why I would do such a terrible thing.
But we were also coming off of four hell years, and last year was the year that my husband had the boogie boarding accident and then surgery, so money was tight and things had been particularly crazy, and the kids were maybe more aware of things than a lot of other kids their age, especially things involving money.
They had learned what it costs for things like food and clothes and shoes and to be on the swim team and to buy gas and how hard and long you have to work to pay for all those things.
Things that other people did on a regular basis and took for granted had become luxuries for my kids.
Going to the movies was a big deal. Going out to eat was basically unheard of. So was buying new clothes. When the kids wasted food I would freak out, and they were starting to understand why.
Because everything costs money. A lot of kids don’t think about this. Ever.
And while I was afraid that the kids were going to be devastated by this new rule and have a really shitty Christmas last year, it ended up being probably the best Christmas ever.
The kids each got one pretty big gift that they really, really wanted, and they were all SO GRATEFUL.
It was crazy to see that inverse relationship again, but this time the other way around.
Back to my point about yesterday’s post and the fucking robes.
This morning Number 5, 6 and 7 were still all asleep when Numbers 2, 3, and 4 had gone for school and rather than wake them up, I let them all sleep as long as they wanted.
And when they each trickled down the stairs about ten minutes one after the other, they were each wearing their new Christmas in October robes.
And they had huge smiles on their faces.
And as Number 6 was sitting at the counter waiting for his breakfast he said,
“MOMMY! I’M SO HAPPY BECAUSE GETTING A ROBE WAS THE ONLY THING I REALLY WANTED FOR CHRISTMAS AND NOW I HAVE ONE!!!!”
That didn’t happen overnight. The last four years got him to that point.
Gratitude and appreciation! YES!
And we got there by giving the kids less.
So in this day and age of people who are struggling to make ends meet, and people who are overwhelmed with clutter, and kids who are entitled and spoiled and feeling like the world owes them everything, I really encourage everyone (even if you aren’t struggling financially) to strongly consider the Four Gift Christmas Rule this year.
And I mention this now, on October 13, because I know a lot of you aren’t like me and you start your shopping super early. Plus, it might take you a while to really embrace this concept.
So I’m giving you more than a whole month before the Christmas shopping season officially starts to seriously think about this as well as the true meaning of Christmas.
I think you may be surprised at the effect it has on your whole family.