My kids are now 7, 13, 13 almost 14, and 16. When my teens were little Christmas was a no-brainer when it came to gift giving. The biggest challenge was restraint. When the Toys R Us Big Book would arrive with the Sunday paper, or the weekly Target ad came out, my kids would circle items on their wish lists. I think most kids from divorced parents may say that Christmas is one of the few times, where divorce and remarriage works to their advantage. With three or four sets of grandparents, multiple aunts and uncles from all sides of our extended families, and two separate parenting households, Christmas was just a toy bonanza for my kids. Beginning in December I would start fielding calls and emails from various family members, keeping track of who I told what to buy for whom.
Now that Nico, Erica and Olivia are in their teens, Christmas gift giving is still hectic, but it’s more expensive. Gifts on their lists range from Uggs priced at $200, to Mac laptops, priced at over $1000. I hate to disappoint, but those gifts are just not happening. Sure, I can ask for family members to contribute towards these things, but with so many different family branches and varying degrees of financial resources, I just don’t feel comfortable with this. Besides, in addition to all my responsibilities, being the manager of a gift registry is something I just don’t have in me. Christmas came way too quickly this year. This year, I am stuck reaching for ideas, cajoling my kids to give me some kind of affordable gift wish list so that I can pass along the information to family members, and save a bit for myself. I would like for my kids’ Christmas not to be a total bust and I’d like to be able to support the many relatives who want to gift them something, and experience their own joy in giving.
So, with only 10 shopping days until Christmas, and only two affordable items on Nico’s list (Hunger Games and plaid shirts), I was happy to see him looking through a catalog the other day. The catalog was from ThinkGeek.com, a site that we purchased some items from last Christmas, and which gifts he really enjoyed. When he was done looking at the catalog and marking items he wanted, I was less than enthusiastic about his wish list. How could I tell family members to spend their hard earned money on this:
But, apparently people besides my teenaged geek son like them, because the site says that they are out of stock.
Nico also asked for this:
The last item he asked for was the infectious disease stress ball . I found it a bit disturbing that the stress ball comes in four varieties of disease: bubonic plague, zombie virus, smallpox and cooties.
Maybe he will get plaid shirts in every color of the rainbow instead.
As for Olivia, my 16 year-old step-daughter, when I asked her for some gift ideas she replied, ” I don’t want anything for Christmas.” Wow, the spirit of Christmas selflessness, or a surly teen? My initial reaction was skepticism, but I should have known better. Olivia is a good student, with a keen interest in politics and foreign policy, and when I watch her interact with her peers and other adults, she is very friendly, polite and respectful. However, like many parents of teens, communicating with adolescents often involves navigating through through long periods of silence or interpreting unintelligble responses of hmm or mmm. When I suggested to Olivia that maybe her relatives want to give her something for Christmas, she replied, “Well then, tell them to give a donation in my name to Human Rights Watch.” In these days of Christmas spending and commercialism, and as I experience these challenging teen years, I choose to accept her wish list at face value and see it as a gift for myself. Maybe, all our efforts spent of teaching her to be gracious in receiving and imparting the value in giving, are paying off after all. At least she’s not asking for the Monty Python Killer Rabbit Slippers.