Dear Grandparenting: Every year my grandkids say Santa needs extra reindeer to haul all of Grandma’s Christmas gifts.
I don’t disappoint them. I grew up poor and never got much for Christmas. My late husband was a self-made man who built up a nice insurance business and left me financially comfortable.
Making the grandkids happy at Christmas is one of my greatest joys. Some friends think I’m crazy to go over the top and spoil them like that, and now my son Bobby has gotten into the act.
He called last week. Bobby was being careful not to hurt my feelings. He said his children get more than they want or need and that he didn’t want my grandkids to love me for the wrong reasons. I assured him that’s my problem and not his.
I give to four charities every Christmas. My family makes five. The way I see it, this takes the pressure off my son and wife. I do the heavy lifting on presents so they’re pretty much off the hook. What’s wrong with that? Mrs. S. Claus, Albany, New York
Dear Mrs. Claus: Extreme gifting may be fine for you, but less is more these days—for all kinds of families and all kinds of reasons.
Money for starters—even the rich are reportedly nervous about their bankroll. Everything is costly, like children. It takes $233,610 to raise a child to age 18 according to federal government data, with hefty college costs perhaps yet to come.
Gifts unwanted, unused and unnecessary add clutter. One study found that the average U.S. household contains some 137,00 items. We’re awash in stuff already.
Critics decry the materialism and problems with instilling an attitude of gratitude among children who live in the midst of plenty. Patterns of consumption learned in childhood can last a lifetime.
Lighten up on your grandchildren’s wants, focus on their key needs, and your son will thank you. Instead of spending hours assembling and tinkering with your gifts, he can enjoy fond holiday traditions, catch up with loved ones and savor some downtime.
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Grand remark of the week
Alyssa Callister from Columbus, Ohio grew exasperated watching granddaughter Amy play with her dinner.
“Eat!” she said firmly to Amy.
“That’s what Amy does between meals,” piped up older brother Colt.
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.