Christmas, Consumerism and Children

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I don’t have any children …

But this year, I played host to my young cousins for Christmas.

I’ve read personal finance blogs that mention children and how best to raise them in the spirit of frugality and money awareness [actually, in my favourite blogs, I read all the posts – regardless of whether they apply to me — Roth IRA’s anyone?] – however, I’ve never really thought too much about it. That changed this year, when I witnessed what my youngest cousin was given [he’s two], and what he did.

What he was given …

  • A pop-up book about animals
  • A jigsaw puzzle of transport vehicles
  • A big red fire truck
  • A blue set of clothes [this one was from me]
  • A red set of clothes
  • A black set of clothes
  • A drum kit – which came with a tambourine, a trumpet, and other instruments
  • A car and build-your-own-road kit
  • A green toy tractor
  • A Christmas bauble filled with chocolate
  • A windmill toy
  • A bubble blowing kit
  • A movie-tie-in fork and spoon set
  • Pajamas
  • A keyboard
  • … other things I can’t remember, but I know the total came to seventeen, because I counted!

What he did …

He took hold of that little green tractor and he did not let it go. For the entire rest of the day. He spent the whole day with the tractor – driving it on the table, on the floor, on the cat [who was not impressed], on the dog [who didn’t seem to mind], on the walls, on his grandfather, inside the house and outside the house. What did he do with the rest? He unwrapped them, because that’s what people were doing with their presents, and children are fantastic at copying what other people do. And then he ignored them.

Completely.

Now, the clothes and the pajamas are most likely going to be useful [my aunt certainly seemed happy about them] – and the book, well, I will never consider encouraging children to read to be a bad thing — but were all of those presents really necessary?

Definitely food for thought when [if] I have my own children!

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