When You Give TOO Much


When You Give Too Much

It’s the week after Thanksgiving and you’ve recovered enough from your turkey and stuffing-induced coma that you decide it’s time to put up the Christmas tree. Excited for that day of making family memories while you trim the tree, you start to wonder how you can squeeze it in between the piles of toy clutter that swamp the room. You need those toys out of there and you need them gone now. So, you toss it all in bins, laundry baskets, Target bags — basically whatever you can find — and transport it to your home’s dump zone where guests dare not go. Tada! A beautiful living room, devoid of toys, ready for decorating, and ready for piling full of more toys for your kiddos.

This was me last weekend. And last year. And the three years before that.

And the massive amount of toys I hid in the basement? 95% of them were given to my children the Christmas before. I’m guessing 90% of those taken down into the basement never make it back up again. So why do I refill our Christmas tree with an insane amount of presents this year, only to hide them in frustration the next year to make room for the new mountain of toys on Christmas day?

Something is wrong with this picture. 

I give my kids TOO much — and not in some touching, heartfelt way of giving too much of myself — I literally give my children too much crap toys.

Who is to blame? Me, obviously. But also the media for getting us excited and encouraged to beat each other up so our kids can have a Hatchimal, and social media, where the mom competition is real even if you don’t usually give into it. Every Christmas Eve, Facebook is flooded with photos of the piles of presents under our trees — and it’s hard not to feel guilt or jealousy when Betty Sue McPerfect has a 15 foot spread of presents and you don’t.

But here is the #1 culprit: as a mom, nothing makes me happier than my children’s smiling faces. The excitement of unwrapping presents, the joy of receiving those sought-after toys — I love that. It’s hard to match.

Yet the excitement is negated by years of a household flooded with toys and kids who are overwhelmed by putting them away because there are just so many. Fast forward to November and the mall is decked out for the holidays, my inbox is flooded with coupons and catalogs, and again I want to run out and buy my kids the world so they will have the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

This year, maybe we will. I took pause as I hauled our toy-hoard into the basement, and this year I decided to stop giving too much.

In previous years, each kid's present pile was at least this big...
In year’s past, each kid’s present pile was at least this big. This year? This is it for the whole family!

I’ve realized that the joy I feel watching my kids tear through 20+ presents each doesn’t last. The excitement fades about most of the gifts almost immediately. They don’t have the time or the capability to enjoy so many toys, even over the span of a year. So the joy is spent, the money is wasted, and my sanity is dragged down by a house full of clutter.

When I put these gifts under the tree this morning, I was afraid my kids would say, “That’s it? Where are the rest?!” I was afraid that the tree wouldn’t feel complete. I was afraid that I would end up running out and buying up half of ToysRUs before I ruined Christmas.

Guess what? The kids didn’t even notice. The tree looks magical. The presents glow beneath it and we are all just as excited as ever to tear into them on Christmas morning.

My hope is that this year, the joy will last. When you give less, you gain more. More appreciation for what you have, more time to spend with your loved ones, and more time to play with the Hatchimal mom Santa managed to obtain at retail price.