I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want. As their friends and classmates collect allowances, fly off to Florida, and play on the latest video game system, mine endure the let's-just-be-grateful-for-what-we-have and-don't-you-know-some-people-have-nothing speech on a fairly regular basis.
Just when I start to pat myself on the back for creating little altruistic beings, bam, the holiday season begins. It starts in October with one simple question, "What do the kids want for Christmas?" My head spins. Didn't I just spend all summer donating enough toys to overflow that aforementioned non-automatic door sporting van? Twice.
Before the kids have come down from the Halloween candy sugar high, I find myself dreading the management of their ever-growing Christmas lists. I sneak the mail in behind my back so the kids don't see the catalogs. I check out the classic holiday movies from the library to avoid TV commercials. I swear that this will be the year I finally convince everybody that a college fund is way cooler than any toy.
But when Toyland is in full swing when you go to Farm & Fleet for new tires in early November, and Costco puts up their holiday display before the geese fly south, I find that I'm fighting an uphill battle. A battle I scurry to contain and organize onto a piece of paper, then into a Word document, then comes the Excel file, until finally I wonder if this is why they really created the Cloud.
If you look up "First World Problems" in the Urban Dictionary, there I'll be, organizing the yearly Christmas list.
I try to remember that my kids don't really need everything on their lists. That all the family members asking me what to buy are only doing so out of love and desire to give the kids something we approve of and that they would enjoy. I have also come to understand that around the holidays, my husband really is just a boy trapped in a man's body.
My best attack plan is to try to keep it all in balance. I indulge the kids (my husband included) in their list-making fun. I spread out the toy requests to any grandparent, uncle, aunt, or cousin who may inquire. All the while sitting down as a family to decide which charity to support with our time or money. And there is always the holiday rendition of my one-woman-show titled, "Don't Forget How Lucky You Are."