We're forever talking about saving rather than spending, spending smart rather than indulgently, indulging sparingly rather than frivolously. But it's Christmas, and as unpopular as this opinion may be among this audience, I like to spoil my kids at Christmas. Like, over-the-top spoil them. And I don't feel even a little bit bad about that.
Although some people buy presents for their children any old time all year round, I don't. My kids don't get toys and treats every time we leave the house. They don't get gifts as bribes for good behaviour or rewards for having to come to work with Mommy or sit through a dentist appointment. I don't buy them something every time we walk through a toy store - or even any time. My kids know that they get gifts for birthdays and Christmas, and if there's something they'd like they have to put it on their wish lists for one of those occasions. (Or save up to buy it themselves.)
That's because I am trying to teach my kids lessons about the value of money and the difference between wants and needs as well as the reality that in the grown-up world, instant gratification is not always possible or practical. I am teaching them about saving, spending, prioritizing and making choices. I am doing this because I think these are important lessons for children to learn in order to grow up with an understanding of how to live with and manage money.
But I also believe that Christmas is a time to spoil my kids rotten. Of course Christmas isn't all about gifts - it's about warmth and love, celebrating faith if you're Christian and family if you're not, giving back to those in need and sharing with the ones we love. It's a magical time of year for children and adults alike, but the reality is that part of that magic is writing letters to Santa and sharing wish lists on his lap, hanging stockings and setting out cookies and milk, decorating the house and tree and waiting with eager anticipation for that magical morning and presents under the tree. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
I buy my kids as much for Christmas as I can afford. I get the boys, if not every single item on their wish lists, certainly most of them. Not because I think I have to and not because the kids expect it but because I want to. Because it makes my babies happy. Because I love watching their faces and hearing their squeals when they open their gifts Christmas morning. Because I work very hard for my money and this is what I want to do with what's left over after I take care of all our needs.
And because, though we are practical and frugal throughout the rest of the year, Christmas is a time when it's ok to spoil our kids.