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  1. #1
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Negotiating Holiday Traditions

    When my wife was growing up (and through to today), when Christmas time came around, her parents gave her clothes labeled as being from them and "fun" presents labeled as being from Santa.

    When I was growing up, my parents just bought me clothes as I needed them and gave me a few, select, meaningful presents from them (no Santa in our house).

    So this was the first year that our daughter was old enough to know what was going on at Christmas (she's 2 3/4). Because of the distance between our home and those of our families, we spent the last week visiting our various families and just got home.

    We did our Christmas last night after having done various gatherings and present exchanges throughout the past week. We hadn't really discussed how we were going to handle the whole Santa thing in advance and for some reason it bothered me more than I expected doing Christmas at the in-laws and having the girl be expected to say thank you to this invisible mysterious Santa dude for all this "stuff" she kept getting (I like the thank you's and she's good about saying them, but the insistence from her grandparents that she say them to a Santa who wasn't there seemed a bit weird). And then when we got home and she got something that I'd picked out especially because I wanted her to have it from me (but I was at work when my wife wrapped the presents) from Santa and she thanked him, it kind of pissed me off for come reason (I know she won't remember where things came from for long, so it doesn't really matter).

    My wife and I had discussed we wanted to have a small Christmas with our daughter and not get her too much stuff because my mother-in-law always goes crazy overboard, but under the tree were more presents than we'd agreed upon because "she had to get some stuff from santa too". It's not the cost of the presents that I have the problem with, it's that she already has so much "stuff" that she doesn't need a lot more. As it is, we end up having to order a lot of the presents for various gatherings and have them shipped to wherever we're going, wrap them there, and ship more stuff home because there isn't enough room in our car for all the presents (I know, first world problems, right?).

    My parents didn't do the whole Santa thing for more or less religious reasons (and because my mom hadn't growing up), but my objections to Santa are more along the lines of how he gets used to promote excess consumerism and all the disposable junk she (and all kids these days) seems to get. I know it's good for kids to have a rich fantasy life, but I just feel so bleh about Santa. I feel the same way about easter. You can have a fun scavenger hunt for a few nice treats without awful easter grass, flourescent disposable baskets, tons of hardened corn syrup and cheap, chinese, plastic toys.

    So how do those of you who come from different traditions blend them together as you've started your families? I need to figure out how to handle things next year so we can discuss it before we forget/put it off indefinitely.

    My compromise would be to let the in-laws keep doing what they're doing with lots of presents from Santa, since we celebrate with them on Christmas day and they're not going to change no matter what we say anyway (we've asked my mother in law to scale back several times to no avail - my father in law apparently has too), and then do a smaller Christmas with presents from us whenever we can (usually a week before or after Christmas).
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  2. #2
    Senior Member jdon's Avatar
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    Growing up, my parents gave us the one or two significant gifts under the tree and stockings were mysteriously filled by Santa. Small trinkets and games etc wrapped in plain red tissue.

    I am not a particularly religious type and my wife is Catholic. The compromise was to allow her Christmas Day to be faith based and Christmas eve for me, a more social evening with friends and family.

    It all works out in the end.
    Ionnsaich aig casan latha an-d, bi be airson latha an-diugh, bi an dchas airson latha a-maireach.

  3. #3
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Hmm, I like the Santa stockings idea.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  4. #4
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Don't expect that you can stop your Mother-in-Law from spoiling her grandchild.

    What I had was that Santa always delivered a Christmas stocking with enough toys and candy to keep us quiet until the parents woke up. Then there was breakfast and then we would open up the stuff under the tree. I don't recall many clothes. Since both sets of Grandparents lived far away, all the presents from everyone were under the tree. Santa's big presents were under the tree.

    We didn't have any cheater presents on Christmas Eve.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
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  5. #5
    covered in cat fur katsrevenge's Avatar
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    You can have holidays without the cheap crap. We did. Easter baskets were actual baskets and had no cheap toys in them. Plenty of candy, no crap. Santa was saved for 'big' family gifts like the Nintendo and stuff like socks.

    You can also make giving more important than getting. Make a tradition of giving away her old but good toys and clothes to charity. Take her to places to volunteer her time. Emphasis picking out a gift for those she cares about instead of 'what she got'.

    We aren't particularly religious, but these things are what we do.

  6. #6
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    yeah, her picking out presents for people is coming next year. at 2, that just seemed a little young.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  7. #7
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    And yes, I am aware of the difference between quality and quantity (if I wasn't, the sore hands from spending a couple hours last night assembling cheaply made toys would have made me very conscious of that). What other people choose to do is something I have no control over. The 2 year old got present fatigue toward the end and had to be prompted several times to keep opening presents when all she wanted to do was play with what she already had. I feel stupid complaining about being too fortunate, but hopefully we can find a better merging of our holiday traditions next year.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdon View Post
    Growing up, my parents gave us the one or two significant gifts under the tree and stockings were mysteriously filled by Santa. Small trinkets and games etc wrapped in plain red tissue.

    I am not a particularly religious type and my wife is Catholic. The compromise was to allow her Christmas Day to be faith based and Christmas eve for me, a more social evening with friends and family.

    It all works out in the end.
    This is pretty much what we did... although there were also a couple of small not so serious gifts from Santa too. Clothing and the more serious stuff (telescopes, cameras and the like came from a relative; RC cars or "toys" came from Santa).

    The mysterious stockings always had some theme... some common item...

    We tended to have the religion and social activities on the Eve, and Christmas is quiet time for family. One thing we do every year now that the kid is older and the Santa magic is worn off is we take a long walk on a local pier to turn back and get perspective.

    BTW my mother always did the stocking thing back when I was younger... and if you happened to be visiting her on Christmas day... a stocking showed up for you... it just happened.

    I carry on the tradition.

  9. #9
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    This was my first year without "Santa" presents as my youngest is now 14. We always did some of the "funner" ones from Santa and the clothes etc from Mom & Dad. Santa presents always had different wrapping paper too. Stockings were (still are) Dec. 5th on Eve of St. Nick (local? German tradition). These were mostly candy, big old orange, nuts and some small gift.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  10. #10
    Senior Member LiteraryChic's Avatar
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    Growing up, and to this day, my Mom still puts "From, Santa" on all of our packages! I just think it is her cute, little tradition that she likes, and (although, I am a huge pessimist - damn manic depressive bipolar & social anxiety disorders & various physical issues - thank the Goddess for bikes & cycles & cute animals or my life would not be going well, although right now, it is not going well) I actually enjoy it. Religion is not a huge thing in my house. I was raised Presbyterian (spelling?), but stopped going to church about 8 years old when I found my religion, Paganism, so it is more about giving and joy in my house than anything else.
    Visit my blog at: http://achiccoincidence.blogspot.com

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