Buzzkill Christmas as former a shitty kid.

I don’t love Christmas. I don’t hate it…but I don’t love it. It’s always filled with manic behavior related to budget and spending and expectations that all stem back to the Christmases from my childhood.

You see? I was a shitty little kid and found myself often disappointed by my Christmases. No one ever knew that, of course, I wasn’t that shitty, but I have distinct memories of being disappointed when the Cabbage Patch doll I asked for was generic and when the Opus sweatshirt I put on my list never appeared at all. Or when the Coke Rugby shirt I wanted was just a plain rugby shirt with no COKE logo.

Disappointment is such a benign word but I felt it DEEPLY. I very vividly recall being done opening presents all of those Christmas mornings and feeling UPSET. Because I was SHITTY, evidently.

So…all of that shed a very real light on kid’s an expectations and while part of me is like, “The kids need to understand that they won’t always get what they want. It’s an important reality.” The other part of me really wants to avoid them feeling the same disappointment that I felt which creates these very strange reactions and responses in my brain around Christmas time that often result in making me the Biggest Buzzkill Of All Of The Buzzkills.

First, I try to make the kids have a very real understanding of budgets so they don’t expect anything outrageous. If you curb the expectations early the disappointment won’t be extreme because you can actually get the things on their list. Even when they believed in Santa I said, “Santa knows our budget. He’s not going to get you anything outside of our budget because that’s the deal we have with him.” 

But I CONSTANTLY talk about the budget as they build the list so I’m pretty sure I’m removing ALL MAGIC from the holiday. I’m like, “Look. You have 3 things over $50 on that list. If we got you all of those that’s basically all you would get.” Or if they put something over $200 I remind them: “If you put that on your list, don’t bother putting anything else.” I mean, JEEZUS, Kim. Can you be anymore of a buzzkill?

And then I am constantly reminding them how lucky they are. I tell them the stories of Eliah’s dollar store Christmases. “You’ve never had to have a dollar store Christmas, you should be grateful for everything.” We support programs for kids in need all while talking about how lucky they are. I don’t do it just for generosity, I do it for lesson teaching so my kids are GRATEFUL because I was a total bitch and NOT AT ALL GRATEFUL and I want my kids to be less terrible than I was. 

But it’s the worst on Christmas Day itself. My kids plow through presents like every kid does but then I totally overanalyze their speed and read all sorts of messages of disappointment in it and I get upset and end up laying some sort of guilt trip on them EVERY SINGLE YEAR. 

I AM THE WORST.

So this year I’m going to try to be better. They still always know about the budget, but I’m going to try to leave it at that. We’ll do the Angel Tree but I won’t beat them with reminders about how lucky they are not to be on that tree. And then on Christmas morning I’m going to try to let go of my baggage for ONCE and just let them enjoy Christmas without all of my, “Are you disappointed? Do you wish you had more? Did you want something different? WHY ARE YOU SO SPOILED AND ENTITLED?” manic rants that ruin it for everyone. 

I’m going to TRY. 

5 thoughts on “Buzzkill Christmas as former a shitty kid.”

  1. Gosh, its a mine field, I can see both points of view , Not wanting your kids to grow up entitled but also not killing Christmas with a guilt trip. Pretty much my Dad was a buzz killer, he’d had some pretty shitty Christmases himself when he lost his dad in WW2, not that we were told details I just gathered this my osmosis. I was always are of how privileged we were. My mum on the other hand really loved Christmas, her own Dad (a widower) had gone all out even during the war time food rationing, air raids etc to make sure his kids had a good time. He used to dress up in a Santa suit and celluloid mask (before plastic) with a beard to deliver their presents. Once my Mom as a little girl caught Santa having nap in her Dads bed ! Santa must have been tired, delivering all those presents!

    I kinda knew growing up not to ask for too many presents, but with all those toy adverts on a Saturday morning cartoons the lists got bigger and revised. I don’t remember being too disappointed, but we didn’t have electronic things or branded objects. I’ve inherited my parents attitude that it’s bad manners to let a company advertise their wares on your chest, feet etc. I know we are inverted snobs.

    Sounds like always, your making a converted effort as ever to bring up your kids balanced and thoughtful people. They will love you whatever. xx

  2. You are a delightfully sensitive person. Like me you know how to be dramatic, it makes you a fun writer to read. I just want to remind you to also remember you are okay just where you were then and now. Holidays and expectations are hard. It sounds like you are trying to communicate well with your kids about realistic expectations and gratitude. Some lessons are hard. Christmas in particular gets blown out of proportion. I hope this season you and your family have a few real moments of laughter and joy and that’s what you remember most. I wonder which traditions you already have that really resonate with your kids.

  3. It’s a struggle. I don’t remember ever feeling disappointed in Christmas as a child, even though my parents were not financially comfortable. We had enough, and that was about it. But I didn’t have many expectations; I don’t even remember making Christmas lists for my parents. Of course, when your kid is a book fiend, it can be pretty easy to buy for them. 😀

    I struggle with finding a balance between fulfilling my kids’ wish lists and surprising them. I LOVE giving them things, but the joy is lessened just a bit when I’m a fulfillment center. I love seeing their eyes light up at a gift I chose for them that they didn’t know they wanted. We do set a per-kid budget and let them know. They’re all old enough to not worry about counting presents, instead appreciating quality vs. quantity.

    Meanwhile, I’m having a ball getting ready. I’m probably 3/4 of the way done shopping. There are 11 people on my list and I’ve wrapped 20 gifts already, with 4 sitting here in front of me waiting their turn and more on the way.

  4. You were a normal kid We’ve all been disappointed, even as adults. I always told my daughter that she would get some of what she wanted from the list, not all, I had to deal with the Christmas greedy’s one year. My parents would always buy a nice gift, maybe two. Her paternal grandparents would lavish her with anything she wanted. When she was 7 or 8 she asked me why her one set of grandparents gave her so much more. When I said that G&G Edwards had more money than G&P Stearns. She said , well if they didn’t spend so much on other things, they could buy more for me. It took much restraint on my part to calmly explain economics. That G&P Stearns had enough money for a home and cars, and food, and bills, but not extra. They had more Grandchildren than 1.
    She understood. As for Angel tree, I let her pick one and pick the gifts. She heard pick another, we cant afford that ones wish. Or we can buy 1 more toy. I think we probably overspent a bit, but not overly so. I have seen friends buy $1000 gifts when they couldn’t pay the mortgage. Crazy. The other comment I have on this subject is Santa. At my house growing up, the wrapped gifts came from my parents, the unwrapped from Santa.Many people say they are all from Santa. They grow up thinking trhat they give parents gifts and they don’t get any from them. Then if there is a huge change in come and the number of gifts from Santa, they wonder why and if they have been told th ey have to be good or they won get anything from Santa, they think they have been bad.

  5. My mom always wanted to get us exactly what we wanted so she encouraged us to make lists and she would only buy from that list. She was paranoid about disappointing us, but it took all the surprise and fun out of it really to know I was getting only items I specifically asked for. I guess I couldn’t expect her to be a mind reader, but I always wanted to be surprised by something wonderful instead. My brother and I would use the JCPenney and Sears toy catalogs and make elaborate lists of things, but we knew we wouldn’t get any of that stuff. I didn’t view that as being greedy. We thought it was a lot of fun to daydream. We’d spend hours with those catalogs! But then, we’d make a realistic list of items, and she’d pick what she could afford from that (which was usually not much). If you are worried about them being disappointed, ask them to boil their list down to “the thing(s) they would be disappointed not to get” and then have a conversation about it if it’s something out of reach. Did you see that recent vlogbrothers video about guilt? They needn’t feel guilty about having things, and you don’t have to feel guilty about being able to give them things. If you are using what you have to also help others, then to my mind you don’t need to worry. I have a feeling that your kids are already growing up to be considerate and caring people. You’ve given plenty of examples of that in your writing.

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