As a kid, I always envied my Christmas celebrating friends.
Truth be told, they always seemed to get better gifts than us Hanukkah celebrators.
It wasn’t until I came to find out that my Christmas celebrating friends were
jealous of the eight (seemingly) fabulous gifts the Hanukkah celebrators got that I
really appreciated Hanukkah. Even back when I was a kid we all saw the
holiday season as a way to jockey for more and better gifts.
I was reminded of this as my family reached the third night of Hanukkah. Now that my little one is 3 and my big one is 6, they can
really appreciate the joy of Hanukkah, so they are each getting a gift for each
night. Add to that the grandma/grandpa gifts from each side, and
the gifts from thoughtful aunts and uncles. The kids stand to take in some serious
loot. I figured they’d love it.
Instead, from night three on Hanukkah became a bad manners
parade with my big one crying every time he didn’t get a Playmobil set (even though he has a zillion
sets already). You should know that he got a new scooter, a
library’s worth of books he wanted and floor seats to a Clippers game. Yes, I
said floor seats to a Clippers game.
He cried opening each and every gift, disappointed the
Clippers tickets weren’t a Playmobil set and on and on and on.
Night seven it occurred to me that I’d never actually taught my
kid how to get a gift. How could he know that going to a basketball game was
incredibly special if I’d never told him? How could he know how much time I spent picking his gifts, wrapping them
and deciding which order they should be received? He couldn’t. So it was my job
to teach him.
By night eight I really got it together and explained to him
my expectations of gift-getting. Lo and behold, he opened up his last
gift—which is not the Playmobil he’d asked for—and he was lovely, grateful and
Your 5-year-old doesn’t really care that some kid he’s never met in a country he’s never been to doesn’t have a toy.
Christmas is coming, which means there’s a lot of potential bad gift-getters out there who have anticipated the Strawberry Shortcake Colorform set they may not be getting. When they open up that box to find it contains a new pair of sneakers, the tantrum is going to hit the fan.
So learn from my eight nights of mistakes. Teach your kids how to get gifts. Here’s how.
1. Do discuss expectations AHEAD of time.
Just like grown-ups, kids need to know what to expect. So before the
gift-getting begins, let your kid know what’s expected of him. Chances are he just doesn't know.
reward bad manners.
If your 7-year-old princess had a meltdown
because grandma bought her a truck set for a 3-year-old boy, don’t tell
princess you’ll return the gift when grandma leaves. A gift is a gift, even
when it sucks. Who knows? Maybe the princess will find she loves trucks. Or, better
yet, maybe she will love your suggestion of donating that gift to a
shelter or charity.
remind your kids there are “less fortunate kids who would be really happy with
Didn’t you hate when your mom did
that? Your 5-year-old doesn’t really
care that some kid he’s never met in a country he’s never been to doesn’t have
a toy. All he knows is he wants that Playmobil Pirate set and you got him a
4. Do explain to your kids how gifts get
Sounds silly, right? Except most kids
thinks toys and new stuff just magically appear. How could they know that not
only did someone work really hard to pay for that toy, but they also spent time
picking out something special? The only
way your kid could know that is if you tell him. So tell him!
5. Do explain how hurt your feelings get when
your kid is a bad gift-getter.
It will shock most kids, but parents have
feelings, too. And let’s face it, it doesn’t feel good to pick out a special
gift for a kid and have him open it and act like he was given a box full of
vomit. Empathy isn’t automatic for most kids. So help them by expressing your
feelings. They’ll be surprised you have feelings!
some gifts for later.
Gift-getting can be overwhelming. It’s hard
to appreciate a fabulous toy when you have ten more to open. There’s nothing
wrong with holding a few gifts back and let your kiddo open them a week, even a
month later. Chances are they’ll be more appreciative.