I did the same thing over the weekend. Although completely determined a few weeks ago to show Lila that Christmas IS NOT about how many gifts you get, I managed to spend my entire (and I literally mean down to the nearest dollar) paycheck on toys, clothes, candy, games and stocking stuffers in a matter of 2 days. I have no cash left to live on this week and had to beg her father to fill up my gas tank but dammit, Lila will have fucking magic on Christmas morning, at least for the 15 minutes it takes to tear the paper off all the boxes.
WHY do we mothers do this kind of thing all the time?
I realize that Lila has no need for this crap! I also realize that the majority of it will NEVER be played with after it's first time out of the package. I realize that I am going to be behind on my bills and miserable without my morning coffee run at work for the next two weeks. I realize that we do not HAVE that kind of money to spend on stupid toys and that since she is 3 she would not know whether Santa left 10 boxes or 25 boxes on Christmas morning.
And yet, there is this profound push by us mothers to get our kids more and better stuff. To make them happier and more fulfilled at least once a year by buying Christmas gifts. In a very rational way, WE ALL KNOW that this is insane and that this stuff makes them nothing if not more spoiled but we do it anyway. Even when we can't afford to pay the cable and Internet and it gets turned off and we decide to live without it for a couple of months rather than to have to deprive our children of that extra toy or gadget (speaking from actual current personal experience). It's fucking insanity.
And don't even get me started about the stupid sense of obligation that I am fighting with to not buy dumb little token gifts for everyone I come into contact with on a daily basis. Do I need to get a gift for Lila's teacher? My co-workers? My boss (-es. I have 2)? How about the guy at the parking garage that I see every day? My mailman? My neighbors? Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents, in-laws? Isn't that what the entire point of the now 3 month, drawn-out holiday season all about? Aren't I supposed to give and give and give to everyone but myself? Don't I need to shop myself into a coma and then have the energy to invite all these people over for a perfect holiday feast so we can sit around a fire roasting chestnuts and singing carols?
At least, this is what the stupid idealization of Christmas says. My kids should get everything they want and I should buy buy buy and no one should feel left out or neglected and I should be cheerful about it and sing and hum the whole time because, you know, 'TIS THE SEASON!!!!
I am going to commit to myself right now and ask that Lila's father hold me to this. Next year, I will set a budget and that is it. And it will be a small budget. Maybe $200. There will be hand-made gifts, so I will need to start planning around Halloween and I will not fight the urge to NOT indulge every wish my kid has, especially since as she gets bigger, the wishes will too.
Oh sweet Baby Jesus, there in the manger in my scraggly nativity scene, please give me the strength to not stress myself out like this ever again.