I’ve created a monster. In an attempt to get my daughter in the holiday spirit, I let her “play Santa” as we went shopping for Christmas gifts. She got to choose the stocking stuffers for her step-dad and a gift for each grandparent. She really seemed to enjoy finding toys that her cousins would enjoy. And it was all fun and games until my little one started requesting that we buy gifts for every child she’s ever played with. Or even kids that she’s just played in the same vicinity as.
Suddenly, my daughter things that every child at her daycare, each kid in her dance class and every classmate at pre-school deserves a little holiday cheer. For months, whenever she saw an advertisement for a new toy, she would tell me, “Mommy, I want that toy!” Now, if she happens to see the Toys R Us ad before I can hide it, she starts circling toys and saying, “This is for Coen… and this would be for Juliana… maybe a doll for Alexa…”
If we bought every gift my daughter requested, I’d have to triple my Christmas budget. Even if we bought a small trinket for her entire class and friends from daycare and extra-curriculars, I’d be spending quite a bit. So just tell her, “No,” right? It should be that hard simply to refuse. I’m the one with the wallet after all.
Except my daughter happens to be more manipulative than your average bear. When I explain that we won’t be purchasing a present for everyone we’ve ever met, she responds with, “I thought we were supposed to be giving. It’s a holiday to share.”
Well, she has me there. I’ve been telling her for a month that it’s more important what we give people than what gifts we receive. I’ve stressed the importance of sharing our good fortune with our friends, family and communities. I’ve stressed these points over and over again. And for once, it looks like my daughter was listening. She’s ready to be extremely giving.
After a little guilt and a lot of negotiation, we decided to give my daughter a budget, just like her mommy. She was allowed to pick 5 friends that she wanted to buy a special present for. For weeks now, she’s been in charge of feeding our two black labs, which isn’t too small of a task considering that they weight over 100 lbs a piece. She’s been earning the money to buy gifts for her friends. And this weekend, we went to store and let her pick out presents for the classmates who mean most to her. With a little price direction, she got to decide who got dress-up clothes and who got art supplies. She picked out a movie for one little girl and a puzzle for the boy she plays with the most at daycare.
She didn’t get to be as generous as she would have liked to be, but we managed to let my daughter give gifts to those who were important to her without wrecking my own budget. Who would’ve thought that Christmas would teach my toddler a little financial planning?