Disgusted by the specter of mounds of plastic toys, Salon writer Emily Bazelon tried to make her son’s birthday parties a little different. For a few years, the “book swap” idea worked fine.
Then her son got old enough to feel deprived. So she had to broker a compromise, which seemed to work. My guess is that next year, she’ll be caving even more.
My sister heard Bazelon interviewed on the radio, and it sounds like she caught some major guff for trying to buck the convention. Parents got into a vicious lather over her deviation, calling her a scrooge and a snob and even Mommie Dearest! Check out the thread at Salon. There are some good points made, like this one:
Passing on values like gratitude is paramount. How the gifts are received and acknowledged is important, and that teaches its own lessons.
I can see this dilemma coming a mile away for me. My boy was born a couple weeks before Christmas, and the toy heaps can get out of hand, overwhelming both the physical space of our dwelling; the focus and appreciation our son can give to that many items; and our own values and sensibilities regarding possessions vs. adventures, experiences, and people.
At this point, it’s easy. He’s 2 and couldn’t care less!