I Cancelled Cable and Now I Have No Idea What to Get My Kid for Christmas

5988-061167Some months ago, we cancelled our cable subscription because we were concerned about the toll so much television might have on our child’s developing mind, and spent many sleepless nights fretting about the newest study that says television will turn your child into a serial killer.

Just kidding. We did it because we’re cheapity cheapskates. I’m 500% convinced that “Word World” taught my kid to read and I still totally let her binge watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, because that means I get to binge watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Now we just do it on Netflix, which is basically awesomesauce because a) Bollywood, b) we save about 100 bucks a month, and c) our cable company was threatening to take out a restraining order if I called them one more time about the horrible quality of our cable anyway. Fun aside: did you know that most cable companies will allow you two swear words before they hang up on you? Now you do. Choose your f-bombs wisely.

For months, I’ve been enamored of our new situation, comfortable in the knowledge that our only gripe from here on out in regards to Netflix would be where the hell is season two of American Horror Story? And then I asked my kid what she wanted for Christmas this year, and she shrugged.

What. The. What.

The thing about cancelling cable is that you also cancel commercials which is awesome/awful. I must admit that I was getting really tired of the near constant requests for cheaply made animals that look like they’re stoned and have “buddy”, “pet”, or “pal” in their moniker. Ditto on things like “Orbeez”, which are totally guaranteed to not explode all over your carpet and stain it in jewel tones and “Squishy Baff”, which commits the grievous sin of atrocious spelling and requiring a $500.00+ visit from a plumber who will probably make condescending remarks to you regarding your decision to purchase something called Squishy Baff.

Because I totally own the fact that I let my child watch lots of TV, I will also own the fact that she had almost every ditty for every piece of plasticrap that every toymaker was shilling memorized. So much so, that in Christmases past, when my husband and I could no longer procrastinate in regards to buying her presents, we would eventually just go to Walgreens and pick up something that we had heard her mindlessly singing about the day prior.

But now? Nothing.

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  • Bethany Ramos

    So many things about this article.

    1. You are such an awesome, hilarious writer, and I’m glad to see you write something again after your last great post!

    2. Your kid sounds way too balanced and like she needs more trash in her brain. :-)

    3. “Squishy Baff” sounds like a sex term from Urban Dictionary.

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      Thanks! In regards to number 3, I might have to head over to UD and make it so, but my favorite depraved sexual act on there remains the “Cosby Sweater” http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cosby+sweater

    • Bethany Ramos

      Hahhaha and Tony Danza. “Who’s the BOSS?”

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      Thanks. I’ve been sucked into a world of depravity now. This is all I will do today.

  • DeanaCal

    I love this, especially your thoughts about breaking the cycle of poverty. I was in the same situation – we got one present, boom, done. I find myself giving my daughter too many things for no reason, mostly because they are things I would have wanted at her age and wasn’t able to get. So, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t appreciate them too much. But how do you fix that? Deprive them intentionally? Then I’d feel guilty every time I bought something for myself, so I’d be deprived too, and on and on it goes.
    On another note, I think you are hilarious and look forward to hearing more from you!

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      It does kind of suck and rock simultaneously, doesn’t it? Thanks for the compliment, and good luck! As soon as I figure out how to get my daughter to appreciate her life in a scenario that doesn’t involve sending her downtown barefoot in a snowstorm to sell matches, I’ll let you know!

    • DeanaCal

      There was another thread where somebody wondered if they gave their kid a science experiment kit, they could totally become a 6 year old meth dealer – see, that’s teaching your kid to WORK for their money!

  • Paul White

    just choose a toy or two randomly. Kids don’t need 1000 presents.

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      But then how will she know that I love her?

    • Sundaydrive00

      On another blog, someone was complaining about their kid’s wanting a bunch of expensive sh*t for Christmas. Someone actually responded by telling them that if they really loved their children they would get another job to buy all those expensive gifts. They were being dead serious too.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    This is awesome! If your daughter (or any child) wants a toy just because it looked cool on a commercial, chances are she’ll throw it to the side because its not what she really wanted anyway. At least now you’ll know if she asks for something, its because she really wants it and will most likely get great use out of it.

  • Cee

    Awesome article! As someone who watches MLP, I would like a Spike plush, but they dont make one :(

  • EX

    It’s funny but since I canceled cable I feel so out of the loop. I listen to NPR on my commute, which is where I get most of my news, so I usually know about the important stuff, but I never realized how much info about pop culture I was getting through TV commercials.

    • Rachel Sea

      I didn’t notice how MEAN broadcast tv is until I got rid of it. I do miss my endless supply of Law and Order, but there is a lot less passive cruelty being piped into my house, and I’m cool with that.

  • Jessie

    I think your kid sounds awesome, I know a few moms who would kill for a kid who only asks for things they’re genuinely interested in/actually need, instead of just whatever plasticrap is being shilled to them on TV with catchy jingles and overly excited child actors (who probably think the toy is lame, anyway).

    Also, don’t feel bad at all for letting an educational tv show do what it was intended to do: Educate your child. Sure, people say you should always do it yourself, but I see nothing wrong with letting the TV pick up a bit of the grunt work so long as you actually read with her yourself from time to time. :)
    And Minecraft is awesome for teaching spatial recognition, as well as creativity. Honestly, video games deserve much more praise than they get as far as kids go. They’ve been proven to teach quicker thinking and problem solving, refine motor skills, reduce stress (in older kids and adults, anyway, not sure about smaller kids), they can even improve someone’s vision. Those are just a few benefits, too. I’d say you’re just fine, and an awesome mom. :)

  • NicknamesAreDull

    I think Lakeshore Learning is a really cool place to get ideas. I don’t typically buy from them unless I have a coupon/code, because it’s a little expensive.

    • Guest

      Yes, they have great stuff! It’s pricey, but their stuff is designed for institutional use (daycares, preschools, etc.), so it’s generally really high quality.

    • NicknamesAreDull

      I love that it isn’t the typical stuff. I started going there when I worked in daycare and was responsible for buying the toys. They also have amazing sales.

  • Megan Zander

    I kinda want the slushy magic for myself. It’s awful I know but diet soda slush on demand? Yes please. Keep waiting for someone to take the hint and buy it.

  • Kay_Sue

    I am glad to have the “two swears” information. I do love my f-bombs when I get mad…it could come in handy! ;)

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      I am always super polite to CSR folks, since I was one for awhile, but I have the dirtiest mouth. I would be like, “I know it’s not your fault, Stan, I was just wondering why the fuck our cable sucks so fucking bad when we pay like 150 fucking dollars a month, you know?”

    • DeanaCal

      FaintlyXMacabre, I think we are sisters that were separated at birth.

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      Possible. My biodad was a serial, crosscountry family starter. I did always want a sister that didn’t suck.

    • Rachel Sea

      It’s like I’m looking in a mirror. I have that exact conversation with Comcast about our internet service.

    • DeanaCal

      Okay, wait, we can’t all be looking in a mirror and seeing ourselves, and then our other selves, and so on….. But wait, it’s Comcast so anything is possible.

    • Kay_Sue

      I don’t aim them at the folks on the other end. Retail management taught me that it typically isn’t their fault. But I could imagine myself having that exact conversation above about our internet service…

  • Rachel Sea

    Socks are an awesome Christmas present.

  • Alicia Kiner

    What about a day trip somewhere she really wants to go or tickets to see a play or live show of some kind? I really like the idea of giving memories instead of toys for Christmas or birthdays. Toys rarely last forever.

  • notorious

    You could pick out really cute socks though!

    Im another one who feels where you are coming from with breaking the cycle of poverty. It sucks. I try to mitigate the damage by taking my kids to volunteer and/or having them pick out presents for Toys of Tots or Angel Tree and explaining why.

    I also only use Netflix for our TV. Sometimes I see a cool toy when Im browsing the internet, and I’ll put it up online and show it to them to see if they care. Or, I just buy things without asking – Im pretty good at picking stuff that they like.

    This year I got my older kid a ticket to a two day class at our children’s museum where he gets to learn about Lego robotics. Im kind of jealous that only kids can go.

    • Kay_Sue

      The best fuzzy socks are always available around Christmas times. I love stocking up on those M-Fers.

  • VA Teacher

    But most importantly, Season 2 of AHS was added to Netflix a couple days ago. :P

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      I was waiting for someone to notice! I saw that a few days ago, and thought about emailing Eve but then I said screw it because AHS was on.

    • VA Teacher

      It’s been on there for 3 days or so… I’m already through episode 12. I don’t want to watch 13 yet because it’ll be over and since I also don’t have cable, it’ll be FOREVER before season 3 is uploaded. :P

    • LiteBrite

      Whoo hoo! It’s been sitting in my Netflix shipping queue for like EVER. Screw you Netflix queue! I’m streaming!

  • SarahJesness

    I didn’t have cable growing up, mostly because of the price, but my parents also didn’t want us just watching TV all day. I grew up in the final years of the Saturday morning cartoon era, so I still had something I enjoyed watching once in a while. (although if my parents picked me up from school early enough, I could catch Sailor Moon or Pokemon) I also had more exposure to commercials, meaning I did see a lot of stuff that I wanted, although I think I recall mostly asking for stuff I saw in stores along with things that I figured probably existed even though I hadn’t seen one. (like a Stitch plushie. Awesome Christmas) I pretty much enjoyed anything LEGO, Beanie Babies, and the occasional Barbie. (but it had to be a Barbie with cool accessories that I could use. Had plenty of the dolls themselves and I didn’t care about fashion enough to really want specific outfits)

  • FF4life

    Yesss Yessssss YESSSS! I am in the same boat. I haven’t had cable for years. Way too expensive. My daughter asked for more drawing supplies and a guitar since her step dad has one she is not allowed to touch. I go into the store to shop and all the toys look boring. I never realized how much advertising influenced my decisions.

  • DatNanny

    This was a fantastic article. It was thoughtful and well-written, from a lighthearted lead-in to an insightful tackling of a broader topic, while still managing to stay humorous throughout. Well done. I want to see more from you.

    Damn, Mommyish articles have been on point lately. Seriously quality content. You guys rock.

  • Diana


    • Diana

      I should probably qualify this by saying that when I was 9 I got a big box of penguin classics for Xmas and it was the best year of my life.

  • S

    We cancelled cable and while ago too and went Netflix only. I noticed shortly after that whenever someone said they were going to see a specific movie, I would have no idea what they were talking about unless it was something like Thor or the Hobbit. But other than the movie trailers I don’t miss it.

  • Named!

    Should have got Hulu Plus instead. Then she would be begging for a freaking Wii U. There are at least 3 Wii U commercials a show :(

    • http://www.gamedevwidow.weebly.com/ FaintlyXMacabre

      We had Hulu plus for awhile but cancelled because of their terrible UI. I could not figure out how to navigate that for the life of me. My husband is a game developer–so if anyone is whining for a new console it is my beloved manchild.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      We ended up getting the Wii U for my stepson, and his father is already begging to play it before we wrap it. I can’t really talk, though, since I insisted it be the Zelda version so I can play it. Between the two of us, poor kid is gonna have a heck of a time getting to play with his own present…

  • Alanna Jorgensen

    I think I love you, especially for that little twist at the beginning of your article. I’m about one rate increase away from setting my Comcast box ablaze in the back yard and sending them pictures emblazoned with “CANCEL MY SERVICE.”

    Agreed on the ads as well. I have gone out of my way to teach my daughter that boys and girls can like any toys and colors they want, and she still gets brainwashed by commercials with girls playing with traditionally “girls” toys and vice versa. Thankfully, that hasn’t stopped her from wanting toys of all kinds (she LOVES ninja turtles, hot wheels and that godawful UGGLY puppy from Toys R Us), but I still hate that she asks me if the toy she’s playing with is actually a boy toy.