parent opinion

'Forget the "must-have" toys, this is what every parent forgets about Christmas presents.'

As per every other aspect of parenting, even Christmas presents have become an element contested, a topic with controversy and even an avenue for shaming other parents. It is a magical time of year that can often be magically stress-inducing.

There are ‘must-have’ toys, the letters to Santa with specific requests outlined, visits to Santa to double check he received the list, and there’s our mate Elf on the Shelf watching over our children to decide whether they have behaved well enough to receive the presents from Santa. So much fuss is made around Christmas presents that it practically becomes a full production with supporting characters, sets, props and a lot of imagination.

Most years I find myself at the shopping centre with less than a week to go until the Big Day. I am one amongst the crowds of sweaty, busy people, holding too many bags trying desperately to just get the F out. I have those painful red marks on my arms where the handles are digging in because I no longer have any room in my actual hands to hold more (but I refuse to get a trolley because that is more of a pain in the arse when there are lots of people and I am stubborn) and the Christmas carols, which I actually really love, are finally starting to grate on my nerves. Voices singing “let’s be jolly, deck the halls with boughs of holly” start making me say (at least in my head) “good golly, soon I will deck them with my trolley.”

According to science, putting up your Christmas decorations early makes you happy.

Video by MMC

Because the Christmas bells have already started ringing, and the city’s Christmas decorations are already up, as well as a surprise early November bump into Santa at Big W, I decided I’d better start my Christmas shopping early. I used a recent long weekend in my home town, when I knew lots of people would be away, to visit the shops at a time where they were actually peaceful.

Although successful in my mission, I arrived home with my bags of Christmas parcels to see my girls playing ‘don’t let the balloon hit the lava (aka floor)’, left over from my eldest’s Halloween birthday party. “Why am I buying presents when all they need is a balloon?” I thought to myself.

This might seem like an exaggeration but in reality, I am not sure it is. You see, since my daughter’s birthday, despite receiving her requested LOLs and a bike, the item she has played with the most is this bright orange balloon with a jack-o’-lantern face. She and my youngest daughter have spent hours playing with this balloon in different variations for hours at a time. The bike has sat in the garage, apart from one afternoon where she decided she’d like to have a ride which lasted for about 15 minutes.

Christmas presents 2018 kids
Kids just bloody love balloons. Image: Supplied.
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With the balloon experience on my mind, I thought back to the other times where balloons or other simple objects that weren’t actually the present, ended up being more entertaining than the actual gift they asked for. The one that also happened to be what we had spent hundreds of dollars on.

When my daughter was one we had got her what I thought was a pretty cool interactive table; those ones with buttons, noises, mirrors and music that says on the front of the box how much fun children will have with it and how much they will learn. Instead she glanced at it and then found a box of tissues on the coffee table and then proceeded to remove every last tissue from the box. All with a huge smile. This occupied her for about triple the amount of time that the table did when she decided to give that a quick go later on that day.

After taking some serious time to reflect on this, the thought of bundling all my receipts and going to the return counter did indeed cross my mind. Why not just buy a packet or two of Christmas balloons, find an empty box to wrap and try the tissue game again?

Although I ultimately decided that I would keep the purchases, the lesson from all of this is let’s just try and relax and not stress as much about the gift-buying stuff. Because we all know, that as parents, we will spend hours, even days, thinking of the best present for our children. We will then hunt them down and buy them, spend hours wrapping them in secret, usually at the end of the day when they are in bed and we would much rather be relaxing with a wine, and then Christmas Day will come, and our wrapping paper will be ripped off with vengeance in the space of .0001 seconds and we will no doubt see more excitement at lunch time as they pop a bon-bon and get a crappy plastic toy and dad joke.

What will you be getting for your kids for Christmas? Tell us in a comment below.

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