Red and green wrapping paper covers family rooms of children on Christmas Eve and morning. The parents get out the screwdrivers to open the backs of new toys and insert the over-priced batteries. Toy bins overflow with My Little Ponies and closet doors can no longer shut.
After the holidays, toys are the new bosses of the home. The parents are left with children who have many many toys to play with.
But grandparents love to spoil (at least my parents do). It is part of the job description—especially around the holidays. It reads: GRANDPARENT QUALIFICATIONS: Must possess the ability to provide sugar to his or her grandchild. Upon special occasions, or no occasion at all, the grandparent must give an obscene amount of gifts to the grandchildren in efforts to drive his or her own child into an insane asylum.
It gets out of control. And fast.
I get all of the posts that encourage giving the gift of experiences, only three gifts, or other ideas to prevent the spoiling of kids. But yet, I let my parents and in-laws give my kids as many presents as they want. No, I don't let them give any lavish items to prevent entitlement. However, they give them more presents than I know what to do with. And I'll admit, it does get on my nerves.
But my parents are alive.
My mom, or Yia-Yia as the kids call her, survived advanced cancer. My dad, or Papou, is 82. He didn't hold his first grandchild until the wise age of 77.
If my mom wants to buy my son seven Star Wars figurines and my daughter all of the mermaid dolls she can find, I let her. A couple Christmases ago, I didn't know if my mom would feel the joy of another holiday. And as for my dad, I never know if this will be his last Christmas. Although the quantity of gifts is aggravating, I don't stop them.
It's true, giving experiences is definitely more practical, but it's just not the same as watching a child tear through that snowman wrapping paper to discover what loud Minion is underneath. When my kids receive a gift from their grandparent, it's the grandparents I watch—not my kids. When the presents produce squeals from the kids' mouths, I can't escape the glint in my parents' eyes. Who am I to stop that?
I just won't.
Instead of complaining about it, I rotate toys, take them to a consignment shop, or donate them. I have my kids pick out toys they don't play with anymore or have outgrown and we give them away. They can start learning a little humility and charity while they're young.
When I start grumbling about the over excess of toys, I try to think less about the toys and more about the joy that it brings the grandparents. To them, gift giving at Christmas doesn't mean batteries and wrapping paper serving as the new carpet. It means watching the magic of Christmas unfold and sharing that with their grandchild.
And I just won't stop that.