Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
I am the proud mother of 5 beautiful children but my most dreaded time of year is approaching… Christmas! My problem with it is Too Much Stuff!
My family usually meets up at my mother’s home. She is extremely into Christmas cheer, which for her means shopping and presents. That boils down to at least 5 presents for each kid, times 5 kids, plus all the other presents from my other family and relatives. That’s 25 to 50 things to put where there is no place to put them! It is so much that the kids are overwhelmed. After opening everything in a mad rush they play with all the stuff for 10 minutes then complain they are bored. It’s too much!
I’ve talked extensively to my mom but she won’t hear it. Christmas is important to her and she feels she is showing them love by buying these useless things no one asked for. If I try to throw anything out, my kids act like I’ve killed their dog.
What can I do?
BURIED IN SEASONAL BLISS
You can tell your mom what each kid is saving for and suggest that if she could help them to reach their goals, they’d appreciate it more than being showered with random gifts.
If this still falls on deaf ears, then it is apparent that your mom needs to do this for herself, not for your kids. Don’t argue. Just tell your kids ahead of time that Grandma is going to give them lots of stuff. They can open it at her house, each pick out one item to keep, and the rest you all will take to Good Will the next day; they are open to help all the poor kids who didn’t get anything for Christmas. Explain that grandma will be helping the poor to this way. Praise them afterward about how good they are by considering those less fortunate.
Don’t worry if they tell grandma; they will. Just smile and ignore her comments. Same with the kids that day. But afterwards, do as you said. Take the gifts to Good Will. You can even rewrap the presents with your kids.
It will probably end grandma’s gifting for the next year but then you can bring up the issue again about what each of your kids are saving for.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: The holidays make everyone a little bit nuts. Ya gotta roll with it.
I hear you complaining about an overabundance of gifts and stressing out about it. Before you do anything else, I think you should stop and give thanks that you have a mother who showers your kids with gifts, and a home to go to that welcomes the entire family with open arms.
Once you have a feeling of gratitude fixed within you, think about the people who have nothing.
OK, now go back to this problem of yours and see if you can think about it from a more compassionate standpoint. If the kids pick up on your new generous and enlightened attitude, they will be much less likely to complain about having to give up some of this crap that they don’t want anyway.