Don’t let Christmas get focused on ‘heaps’ of gifts
‘‘Sleighbells ring, are you listening …’’ Da-da-da, da-dada-something! Ah, Christmas.
I’ve resisted long enough. I almost did my first Christmas column two weeks ago after standing bemused in The Warehouse watching workers putting up the Christmas tree display just behind the stands of Halloween clobber. But I resisted this evidence of what I think of as retail-driven festivalisation of the last three months of the year.
Then I got sent a link to The Warehouse’s promotional Christmas video of young children doing the shopping for Christmas.
I could ignore one sign but not two.
The time was nigh to write, once again, about not letting Christmas wreck your finances.
The Warehouse’s video shows kids writing Christmas lists.
Much of this gorgeous to watch.
Children can be many things: Thoughtful, devoted and so keen to please their parents.
They can be guileless and
just unrealistic. As the video shows, the gift of a lunchbox for dad or a pencil with a rubber on the end, is equal to the gift of a diamond necklace for mum.
They can be accidental comedians like the lovely little girl who got green nail varnish for her pets.
They are innocent of the value of a dollar and, of course, they can be innocently co-opted by a retailer into the promotion of Christmas excess.
Things I like about The Warehouse include its living retail wage, its financial literacy programme for its workers and its shift up the quality scale.
Things I don’t like about it include the second half of its Christmas video and what happens to children you take into one of its stores.
Shopping is just not something kids should do much of. It is bad for them.
Kids are at their best when they are playing, in the garden, helping make the dinner, drawing pictures, dancing, playing sport, riding bikes, roller-skating.
Yes, the sort of thing the Famous Five did for fun.
They are at their worst when they are being ill-led, inexperienced little consumers/acquirers.
Hence my number one and two rules of childcare: Anywhere is better than the mall. Anything is better than shopping.
The first half of The Warehouse video showed kids thinking of what to buy their loved ones.
That was good. That was positive.
Especially the little boy who wanted to get his uncle a hug because he could make that himself.
The second half of the video showed the mayhem of the kids charging around the store, filling their little trolleys to the brim with plastic stuff, and learning to think of Christmas as being about getting ‘‘heaps’’ of stuff.
In my ‘‘responsible’’ Christmas video, I’d have shown those kids sticking to their lists, though obviously that diamond necklace would have posed a problem.
It would have been about moderate, targeted shopping – the opposite of ‘‘heaps’’.
Parents, encourage your kids to be giving but give them Christmases that are not about heaps of stuff.
The Christmas patterns you set up are the ones your kids will most likely repeat throughout their lives.
Make the first gift they get each year to be the gift of moderation.
Make Christmas affordable. If there’s not much money in your household, don’t rue the fact.
Learn from the boy who wanted to give his uncle a hug.
Some of the best things really are still free.