Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, December is almost here, so it’s time to get serious about holiday shopping. It’s not easy buying presents for three boys, who no longer dream about the trendy toys they see advertised this time of year. They are way past the Fisher Price, plastic toy stage and that makes pleasing them a lot more difficult. What’s more, we celebrate Hanukah AND Christmas in our house – an interfaith child’s favorite time of year! However, it makes an interfaith mom’s job of buying cool gifts a lot harder. Sure, the boys still make lists and tell me what they’d like, but for both holidays, I also like to surprise them with gifts they never would have thought of on their own. Every year I try, and every year, I fail, with at least one gift, if not more…Here’s just a small sampling of my major failures of gift-giving over the years:
- A Dollhouse. Yes, I tried that one year. I went all gender neutral on them and decided my three boys needed to play with a wooden dollhouse. Seriously, what was I thinking? Within days, one of them had taken a purple magic marker and madly scribbled all over it so that it looked like a graffiti-scarred house.
- Books. I know, I should be fostering a love of reading and believe me, I do as much as possible. Two out of three of my kids do enjoy curling up with a good book, but when holiday time rolls around, unwrapping a book does not get their juices flowing. Also, I can rely on Grandma and Grandpa, who won’t give up on bolstering their intellects and gift them with books every year. The boys know they can expect a book from their grandparents every December.
- Clothes. I’m talking about practical clothes. I won’t even think about giving them a nice sweater or jacket. A basketball jersey with their favorite player’s name on back, on the other hand, now you’re talking their language!
- Any non-tangible item. In other words, if it’s not something they can see or touch, they are not gonna like it. I won’t even try to gift them with a “special lunch with Mom” or “a day at the mall with Dad.” The only exception to this is tickets to a Knicks game or a gift card to Game Stop.
- Outdated Video Games. This might possibly be the most hated gift of all. One year I tried to surprise my boys by finding a college basketball video game they had never seen before. Well, of course they had never seen it before; it was five years old and for sale at Game Stop in their “used games” section. No wonder it only cost $10 instead of the usual $60 for brand new games — you know, the games they actually want. The look of utter disgust and disappointment on their faces was enough to send me scrambling back to the store to make the exchange the day after Christmas.
This year, I’ve decided to stick to their lists as best I can. And if they complain that I didn’t surprise them with anything “good” this year, I’ll just hand them each a $20 and say “Surprise…Now you can shop for yourself!”
Have you ever failed at giving gifts to your kids like I have?