As my relationship with material goods grows ever more tenuous and fraught, I find getting Christmas right with young children challenging. I have reached the point in my life where due to extremely good fortune and 38 years of life experience, very little of what I want, comes from a store anymore. What do I want? More sleep. To be a better mom. To be a better wife. To be a better person. A healthy left knee so I can run again. More hours in the day. To derive more enjoyment from my life and my job. A sunny outcome to this situation and also to another similar though far less dire situation. To make a contribution. Somehow, I find receiving material things an extremely depressing event... (unless they are utilitarian and will help me in my everday life (like the dustbuster and the car snow shovel I got this year)... unless a Precor EFX Elliptical machine shows up at my door... that extremely materialistic object would be welcomed with open arms and a cozy spot in my basement especially now (see desired healthy left knee above). It is obviously not realistic or fair for me to expect La Cocotte to share my dim view of material goods. Her job is to want and our job is both to give and to help her be happy with what she received.
Last year we went overboard on the gifts... so overboard that La Cocotte's joy in receiving them was, I believe, blunted by their sheer number. Confronted with the small mountain of presents, she went into a trance and tore into package after package without being able to process the contents of each. The overall effect was similar to the giant chocolate chicken episode. This year, I was determined to get the "right" number of presents. I also sternly lectured my family members who would be buying presents on the importance of keeping it reasonable and buying small (in number and size) presents for the children. Despite the complaints, my edict was stuck to grudgingly and the result was a contained, reasonable Christmas haul where I feel every present was appreciated and will be remembered. La cocotte said that she liked all of her presents and that she got "beaucoup" (lots) presents but not, however, "assez" (enough) presents. And indeed as I looked at the pile of presents we, her parents, purchased for her, it did seem that the pile was perhaps somewhat modest. Or has my compass just been thrown off by the ridiculous excess in society (again. I refer you to the giant chocolate chicken). So, here is a complete listing of all the presents we got for la cocotte for my future reference and also for judgement against the barometer of the opinion of the internet:
1. 44 key keyboard
2. ballet outfit for her upcoming lessons (tights, slippers and body suit)
3. magic carpet sled
5. bathtub crayons (already used down to stubs)
6. weird stocking stuffer thingy too convoluted to describe
Total cost approximately $160.
In addition to this she received an assortment of other presents from people other than us (Dolls, Mr. Potato Head, puzzle, Snakes and Ladders game and there are more on the way we have been warned). This, in her estimation, is simply not enough presents. I find this somewhat alarming and disheartening but I think ultimately her feeling of not being satiated comes from us not hitting the sweet spot... we did not buy the one toy that is designed to be appeal to her inner princess, you know the one... pink, plastic, child spends hours in front of totally entranced, good for stimulating the imagination and the Chinese economy. Anyway I am curious as to how her haul (just the enumerated one above i.e. the one from us) compares to others...
***begin depressing part of post ... might want to bail out now***
This next part of my train of thought is really a separate thought... really should be a separate post. Also, there is nothing original in these next few thoughts and they are something I am sure every other parent (no, scratch that breeder-centric thinking) person who is relatively comfortable thinks... it just feels obscene to have such luxury against the backdrop of all of those around the globe who go without. Our Christmas, reasonable and contained as I felt it was, would represent luxury beyond the wildest imagination of hundreds of thousands of children (again, scratch that) people around the world. Inequity is always present and, indeed, we don't have to look to iconic images of extreme deprivation in impoverished countries to find it. God knows it exists right here in my city, in my neighbourhood... but somehow inequity is particularly poignant at this time of year (which is ridiculous right? bc people go without regardless of whether I have heaps of presents under my tree and heaps of food on my table). So I make the donations which I do with a nauseating feeling of power... $10 for a mosquito net to prevent malaria, $20 for immunizations for a family, $100 for clean water for a family, $1000 for a one-room schoolhouse for village, $200 for a cow for a family... I guess there are no easy answers and I don't really have a point. I am just having a hard time reconciling all of these images and numbers this time around.