This was the best Christmas in a very long time, and I think the only Christmas that will top it will be when we can finally have all three of our sons together on Christmas morning. Other than that one shortcoming, I could not imagine a better day. It was pure heaven, from beginning end, in spite of some pain and anxiety.
My motivation for this post is not to describe the day in more detail or pontificate on what the true meaning of the holidays or tell you how you should have spent yours (hint: it’s different for everyone, so there is no right or wrong).
No, the intention of this post is to serve The Greater Good. My hope is to inform those with the kindest and most generous of intentions of a gift trap that some of us parents find ourselves in year after year, after year, after year.
It’s gift cards. The loving and thoughtful family and friends that give gift cards to my sons that they so genuinely appreciate are a bane of my existence. The day after Christmas is spent online determining the value and then buying those same gift cards off of them so that the items they are saving up for (a set of cymbals for LT’s drum kit at a mom and pop store in his home town and the necessary bits for Naughty Bear to build his own kick-ass gaming rig from various vendors) can be achieved.
Yes, indeed. It’s possible that the gift card at Target or Best Buy or WalMart will instead get buried in the wallets of the parents of the children you bought them for, after they shell out the face value so the kids can attain their saving goals sooner.
Should I do this every year? Maybe not. But when your kids are miserly in their saving for these expensive goals and being careful with every expenditure to find their way to what their hearts desire, they can think of nothing else to spend money on and it feels almost frivolous with where their minds are to extensively search for something to spend the card on.
Please, I beg of you, on behalf of other parents that may be finding themselves in the same boat as I am again this year, find out if the kids would prefer cash towards a large purchase they are planning. Especially if they are older than 10 or 11, because they will definitely be starting to set their eyes on more and more costly items at those ages.
Yes, they may spend a small portion frivolously instead at a movie theater or buying a pair of red jeans. But it *is* the holidays and if you are giving them cash value to buy something, why not just give them cash and make it easier for them? And their parents?
Happy Holidays to all that celebrate at this time of year, and Happy Monday to those that don’t. I sincerely wish each of you Dear Readers the very best health and happiness as this year comes to a close and we await the New Year.