An alternative to buying my kids more crap for Christmas

by Todd Hebert

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I have two kids, ages 11 and 9. I’m not buying them anything for Christmas this year. No, the reason is not because they have been bad and don’t deserve anything. On the contrary, I couldn’t be more proud of them. And I’m not trying to protest our country’s obsession with consumerism by denying them Christmas gifts. Although a viable protest, withholding presents from kids is obviously not a proper way to fight that fight.

The reason why my kids won’t receive any presents from me this year is simply because they don’t need more stuff. They have everything they need. In fact, they have more junk than they know what to do with. I’m certainly not going to add more stuff to their already huge pile of stuff. It’s simply a matter of common sense. It they don’t need anything, why buy anything?

But how do I get away with not buying Christmas presents? Some would call that cruel. Most kids wouldn’t stand for it. Most parents certainly wouldn’t dare trying to get away with it. Christmas means presents, lots of them. The more expensive the better, right? Anything less and you are a scrooge or a grinch. Nah, I don’t buy it.

Instead of buying more stuff for my kids this Christmas I’m going to give them cash, but with one caveat. They aren’t allowed to keep all of the money. They must give some of it away to a good cause. I won’t dictate the percentage that they must donate. I’ll leave that up to their good judgement.

The take-home message is one that I think falls perfectly in line with what Christmas should be about: helping those in need. When we have everything that we need, instead of taking more we give our surplus away to those who could use it more than us. A simple message any kid can grasp.

I’ve already talked to the kids about my idea and they are actually quite exited about it. They’ve gone as far as picking out a charity already. It’s an online charity called DonorsChoose.org that they learned about from their school. Public school teachers post classroom project requests on the site. Requests can be anything from supplies and books to classroom furniture and field trips. Donors can search teacher’s requests by subject or by location and donate any amount as little as $1. It turns out my son’s teacher has posted a request on the site for a teaching table. Both of my kids have decided to donate to this project.

Perhaps it’s a bit cliché and overly sentimental, but the lesson this Christmas for my kids is there truly is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.

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