Christmas Morning Reflections

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.

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  1. Daniel says:

    I hope that one day (maybe soon!) I will be reading someone’s blog as they review 52 financial books, and I see your book receiving great praise. Even if it’s a collection of your blog posts, I think you worthy of print. I often wish your words were accessible to some (most) of my family members who are not online.

  2. Suzi says:

    My son just turned 13. He believes that hand made gifts are far better than store bought gifts. We live in Los Angeles, so it’s not like he isn’t exposed (and over exposed) to a consumer drive culture. He believes hand made gifts are better because I told him so.

    “Wow, that’s *handmade*”, I would say. He could tell, even at a very young age, that it meant it was something special. We’ve made it a tradition to give each other handmade gifts each year (along with more traditional purchased gifts) so he understands the thought and work that goes into a handmade gift.

    I’m sure your son will never determine his self worth by material things, because that’s how you’re raising him :)

  3. rodgerlvu says:

    thanks. you are the most intelligent person i ever met…

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