As I watched a cavalcade of children open up their Christmas gifts, I enjoyed watching the smiles on their faces, but something else troubled me a bit. The children often seemed to covet the most expensive material gifts, while some of the nicer and more thoughtful ones were forgotten in the gift grab.
This left me wondering what we can do to encourage less materialism among children who are asking for the latest consumer goods for Christmas without leaving them disappointed on Christmas morning. The experience of receiving piles of gifts leaves them believing that they must have lots of things to have a complete Christmas.
Here’s my philosophy. The fewer gifts you get for a child, the better. My plan is to buy one significant material gift for my child each year and, if I feel more gifts are necessary, giving a mix of homemade gifts, utilitarian gifts, and investment gifts.
Why do this? I don’t want my child to ever believe that his self-worth is connected to getting the same electronic gadget or toy that his friends also received. I don’t want him to ever tie his self-worth to any sort of material good, because as I watched the children open their gifts and I remembered doing the same when I was a child, I realized that this was part of the reason I found myself in financial armageddon.
Is this right? Is this the way to avoid creating a materialistic child? Is it appropriate to handle Christmas in such a fashion? I don’t know, but it is in the back of my mind this Christmas day.