This past week my family and I celebrated my 28th birthday. One of the reasons it was so enjoyable is that this year I’m really settling into feeling content with my life and not feeling like I need or want anything at all. Just being with my family was more than enough and I was quite happy to have just a few practical gifts, useful things for my home and business, just the way I wanted it to be. No muss, no fuss.
But there was one thing that got me down: my 3-year-old daughter got presents, too.
Trust me, I’m not jealous that my daughter received gifts on my birthday, but to put it kindly, I was irritated. Both my mother and my grandmother had each decided on their own that my daughter couldn’t be left without presents on this occasion, proving to a 3-year-old that, as she put it “See Mommy, little girls DO get presents on their mommy’s birthdays!”
Cringe. Major cringe.
See, I’m really trying as best I can, in this age of excess that we live in, to raise a little girl who isn’t overly concerned with materialistic wants and needs. BAHAHA. Yes, I hear you laughing and I’m starting to think it’s funny too. Sometimes with all of the non-stop giving on holidays, birthdays and for no reason at all, it just feels impossible.
This year Christmas was a circus. Five grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts and uncles, and friends all had gifts for my daughter. The gifts seemed to start two weeks before Christmas and go on and on and on. I spent months making my girl a handmade kitchen to be her one big exciting gift and she truly loved and appreciated it come Christmas morning. She finally knew, that’s what I had been in the basement making all those weeks when I wouldn’t let her come downstairs!
But as the excessive gift-giving went on (for days) her enthusiasm for the presents seemed to dissipate. And with the sheer amount of toys, clothes, books and just plain j.u.n.k., how can I really have expected her to fully appreciate any of the presents?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. When I was young, Christmas was a big freaking deal. It was awesome, but it lasted two days (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and then it was done. No presents until my birthday. But the last two years have left my family of three feeling desperately overwhelmed with stuff. It’s not only that we have no place in our small single family home for all the toys. It’s that I simply don’t believe a 3-year-old needs weeks upon weeks of endless gifts for any reason.