In many ways Karen and I were victims of our own success. Since most of our relatives live overseas we were given budgets, albeit modest ones, to buy presents for the boys. Presents that would be what the boys wanted and that would fit with their existing toys. This seemed a good idea because it meant that they would not have presents that they did not want, and so would not sit in the corner unplayed with.
So Karen and I spent many hours looking for the right toys at the right price on eBay in particular, since we thought that it was a responsible thing to do to reuse rather that buy new, our criteria being that the toys were pretty much in mint condition and came in their original box. There were certainly plenty to choose from this year, no doubt with many people wanting to sell unused and seldom played with toys to fund their Christmases this year, and we got a good haul of clean new looking toys for a fraction of the new price. We were so pleased with ourselves, and as each new parcel arrived we checked it and put it away in the garage.
The thing was that we did not see all the boxes together in one place, and as the parcels began to appear and were ripped open over the Christmas period we began to view the growing mound of presents in the corner with some alarm. By Christmas morning we had decided that the boys should have one more present and their stockings and call a halt the the proceedings so they had an opportunity to play with what they had, and save the unopened ones (which they did not know about) until the New Year when we come back from Germany.
Are we right to do this? I do not know. It felt right at the time. It felt as if we had presented the boys with all the parcels at once they would have been completely overwhelmed by the whole thing and, although it would have looked amazing, they would not have known where to start once everything was open. But, on the other hand, I also wonder whether we should have trusted them more.
For me this also begs the question of who the presents are for. Do we present our children with mounds of presents at Christmas to somehow prove we are good parents? Or do we just want to make them happy, and think that this happiness can me measured quantitatively somehow? I suspect that the boys, certainly at their current ages, would have a good time however big the mound of presents we gave them, since we tried hard to make the rest of Christmas, and the run up to the bug day, special for them as well.
Whatever the answer to these questions are we will certainly be rethinking this next year, but I have a feeling that as the boys get older new issues will emerge. As with most things only time will tell as the change continues.