There's one really good way to piss off your friendly neighborhood parent during the holiday season. Buy their kid something without asking first. Oh, I know, it's all about holiday cheer! And fun! And making kids happy! And it could get your butt unfriended ... permanently.
Just how happy do you think that kid's going to be when you turn your back, and Mom whips that light-up slingshot that makes realistic noises and shoots up to 1,000 feet out of his hands and hides it for good? Gee thanks, Best Aunt EVER. You play the hero; we get to play the heavy or else our kid will shoot their eye out. That wailing and pounding of feet that you heard as you waltzed out the door to your cute little two-door carseat-free car is the sound of Christmas misery, inflicted by you.
In five years of parenting, I've confiscated moon sand that I knew would be spread from one end of my house to the other, a Hannah Montana DVD given to a 2-year-old (just me?), and a set of fake nails gifted to a 3-year-old. I've had to stomach the introduction of Barbie and place a crappy CD player in the attic while I shelled out for the real thing. That's just half of the list. My brother also delights in handing over large paper sacks full of candy bars ... payback will be a bi-otch when he finds a girl and ends up in the family way.
So call me controlling. But this year, I'm declaring war on the gifters who give without asking. Come to my house with a package that wasn't pre-approved, and I'll send you packing. Let me lay it out for you (and the single friends you must share this with):
1. Asking my child what they want for Christmas is not the same thing as getting an OK. My kid would eat chocolate bars for breakfast if she could. Sure she's allowed to have real markers at 3 ... in her dreams. Kids are not a reliable source of information, and if you think they are, it's a good thing you don't have any.
2. Asking for a copy of the Santa list is a no-no. Listen, it's been awhile, I get it, but let's refresh your understanding of Santa. The jolly fat guy is none other than dear old Mom and Dad. Asking for a copy of the Santa list is stepping directly onto our turf. If it's on there, either we've already bought it or we're trying everything in our power to get it. We want to make the magic. It makes us feel important. So back the you-know-what up!
3. Doubles suck when you're a toddler. Sure, we try to teach our kids to say thank you for everything, to just be grateful that someone was kind enough to give them a gift. We are working on it. But they're kids. They are little narcissists. They take it as a personal affront. And it's not much fun for the Mom who has to rip through the five kitchen junk drawers to find that receipt for Toy Story 3, then take her kid back to the mall during the return rush. Or we could just avoid the whole thing with one simple question.
4. It really is the thought that counts. Really. If you thought about it, we're not greedy. We'd be just as happy if you saved your money and came over and actually played with your little niece or nephew. We've read Llama, Llama Holiday Drama 15 times in a row, and as much as we loved it the first time through, we could use a break to grab a glass of water (or wine).
What's the worst "gifting" that's been done to your kids?
Image by Jeanne Sager