Pleads for less this hol­i­day sea­son

The Mercury News Weekend - - A+E - Ask Amy Amy Dick­in­son DEAR OF­FENDED » Many read­ers were put off by this mother’s ques­tion. Thank you.

DEAR AMY » My hus­band and I have three beau­ti­ful chil­dren, ages 10, 3, and 1.

We are blessed with a large fam­ily on both sides. They are all in­cred­i­bly gen­er­ous, es­pe­cially at Christ­mas. They love to give gifts, and we are grate­ful for their gen­eros­ity. How­ever, like many fam­i­lies with sim­i­larly aged chil­dren, we have come to find lately that we have an over­abun­dance of, well ... stuff.

My hus­band and I have come to feel that we would like to stem the abun­dant flow of toys into our house, as our kids have far more than they could ever need or play with.

Not only that, but lit­tle ones just don’t have the at­ten­tion span to sit and open tons of presents. Last Christ­mas, it took my son three days to open all of the presents our fam­i­lies sent.

This year, we would re­ally like to ask our fam­i­lies to avoid buy­ing toys al­to­gether. We would be fine with no gifts at all, but if our fam­i­lies in­sist, we would much rather the gift of ex­pe­ri­ence. For ex­am­ple, mem­ber­ships to lo­cal chil­dren’s mu­se­ums and zoos, con­tri­bu­tions to­ward sum­mer camps or ex­tracur­ric­u­lars, movie tick­ets, etc.

I know in gen­eral it is con­sid­ered rude to ask for spe­cific gifts. How­ever, I fear that if we don’t say some­thing soon, we will be over­whelmed with toys again.

I would feel ter­ri­ble tak­ing toys im­me­di­ately to do­na­tion cen­ters, but I think that’s what will hap­pen. Is there any gen­tle way to make this re­quest with­out seem­ing greedy or un­grate­ful? — Up to Here with Gifts DEAR UP TO HERE » Many fam­i­lies will iden­tify with your prob­lem, which is a uniquely and em­bar­rass­ingly mod­ern is­sue. While many go hun­gry, oth­ers of us are ac­tu­ally drown­ing in an over­abun­dance of stuff.

I think your idea is a good one, and I will join you in ask­ing fam­i­lies to do less ma­te­rial giv­ing dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.

You should con­tact ev­ery­one on both sides of your fam­ily in (per­haps) a group email, and ex­press your grat­i­tude for their gen­eros­ity. Tell them that this year you are go­ing to try to cut down on the abun­dance of ma­te­rial gifts. Say, “We’d be happy to of­fer sug­ges­tions for al­ter­na­tives, such as mem­ber­ships to our lo­cal mu­seum or ex­tracur­ric­u­lars for the kids. It also might be fun for them to re­ceive ‘coupons’ for ex­pe­ri­ences from you, which they could cash in through­out the year. We cer­tainly don’t want to dic­tate your choices, but thought we would share this idea with you.” DEAR AMY » I thought “Grounded Mom’s” need to stop her son from ac­cept­ing a grad­u­a­tion gift of sky­div­ing was very con­trol­ling.

Thank you for call­ing her out on her state­ment: “I only have an heir, not a spare.” I found her im­pli­ca­tion (that an only child is some­how more valu­able than sib­lings) quite ob­jec­tion­able. — Of­fended

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