‘I’ve actually heard my Grandkids calculating which Grandparent they can hit up for which toys for maximum impact. Our little angels are fully aware of our weakness.’: Mom explains why she’s cut her Christmas spending budget in half

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“When my girls were little, my parents doted on them shamelessly. I mean, over-the-top-please-stop-you’re-ruining-my-kids doting. It made me nuts, but now I get it.

If you’re a grandparent, you know there’s nothing like it. It’s hard to explain to people without grand-kids how the offspring of your offspring can wrap you up like nothing before with just a look, turning formerly strong and determined parents into a gooey pliable grandparent mush.

So, Christmas can be a challenge. All the presents and goodies just light those little faces right up. Nothing makes a grandparent happier that a lit up little face. Those sweet smiles melt our hearts every time.

Don’t think for one minute that our little angels aren’t fully aware of our weakness. I’ve actually heard my grandkids calculating which Grandparent they can hit up for which toys for maximum impact. But, as of last year, the maximum impact Christmas raid is a thing of the past. Now, don’t get me wrong. I will still get them a reasonably priced toy, and a book or two, but no more major hauls from Nonna’s house.

At our house, we have decided that we will cut our Christmas and birthday spending in half, and put the other half in accounts for our grandkids’ future.

Husband and wife stand outside with their three grandchildren

Here’s why:

Kids who get too many toys, don’t appreciate them.

Before you tell me how grateful your wonderfully well brought up babies are, do this: ask them what you bought them for their last birthday/Christmas or other gift occasion. If you’re Grandchildren are like mine, they got so much ‘stuff’ they can’t remember who gifted them what, if they can remember what they got at all.

Unless you gave them something really big, chances are, they won’t know. If you remember what you bought, ask them where the gift is now. Again, unless it was a bicycle, or a game console or some such, it’s probably broken, lost, missing pieces or long gone. I’m not saying they don’t appreciate them at the time, it’s just that they aren’t valued over time.

Your son/daughter will thank you.

I can remember LITERALLY backing a pick-up-truck to my parents’ front door to take home all the loot my kids got from their grandparents on Christmas (and birthdays). Picture that….an actual truck-load of junk…I mean goodies. I remember stressing over where to put all that stuff and would actually store some of it to give back to them later in the year. I stressed over the commercialism, and worried that my kids saw their grandparents as gift machines. No amount of trying to hold them back ever stopped, or even slowed, their grandparents.

My kids didn’t take care of their toys because there was always more, and I was constantly buried in plastic purgatory.

I hear my daughter complain about the mess of toys stressing her out, and I don’t want to make it worse. Your now adult children will be so happy when you tell them the junk train has derailed. I can almost guarantee it.

Mother stands with her mother and mother-in-law along with her five kids on trail

The Grandchildren will thank you later.

It’s hard to imagine, but someday our little ones will grow up. And, Grandparents, we know from experience how unbelievably fast that happens.

Way too soon, these little babies will want a college education, or to move out on their own, or to buy a house or a car, or get married, or have children of their own. What a wonderful thing it would be if, instead of mounds of plastic junk that will molder away in some landfill somewhere, we could give them a little bit of a financial head-start later on.

It might not be exciting now, but it sure will be when we can help them get their lives started off right.

The most important reason is there are more important things.  

I’ve heard it over and over that we have lost the true meaning of Christmas.

And we have.

Commercialism is rampant. But we can’t complain about it if we are perpetuating it. It doesn’t have to be this way. Grandfolks, WE are important people in the lives of the little ones. They will, without doubt, glean so much of their belief system from us. Instead of spending our time shopping and wrapping, what if we spend our time shaping.

Explain your traditions, whatever they are. Help them understand why you celebrate. Remind them over and over what Christmas is all about. Tell them stories of your childhood Christmases. Don’t be surprised if they ask you about dinosaurs…mine did.

Help them make gifts for their parents and each other. Make hot chocolate and watch cheesy old Christmas shows. Take a drive to search for lights. In other words…spend time with them and start family traditions.

Get rid of the hassle and chaos to make room for what is important. I promise you, they will remember the time they spent with you much more than they’ll remember anything that came from the store.

As we have cut back on the number of gifts, we have found that our grandchildren have not even noticed. The excitement hasn’t waned. They don’t feel short-changed. I know this, because they never let feelings get in the way of telling the truth. They would speak up if they were unhappy, as most kids have a tendency to do. They have not equated how much we give them with how much we love them. They’re pretty astute little folks… practically geniuses.”

Five siblings sit on floor in front of Christmas tree

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Donna Garland, a grandparent and guest author on Momstrosity. It originally appeared on their blogSubmit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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