The holiday season is over but we must take note of an over-the-top New York Times article “Grandma’s Gifts Needs an Extra Reindeer.” The article claims that
“message boards are filled with pleas from exasperated parents seeking advice on managing the endless influx of toys, and preventing what they see as the dual tragedies of creating waster—financial and environmental—and raising spoiled brats.”
Dual tragedies? It’s hard to believe, as the article mentioned, that there many grandmas buying all 17 Disney Princess dolls as a present for one little girl. While some of the parents interviewed complained about such overindulgences others were more offended by the very notion of plastic (!!) toys or video games. Others aesthetic sense was disturbed by the clutter created in their other apparently pristine homes.
Yes, there are some grandparents who qualify as shopaholics. Gift extravaganza extends to birthday as well as holiday presents. So should grandparents be banned from shopping without a parental seal of approval? There will always be grandparents who will buy what they want, when they want. For the more reasonable grandparents there are ways to make all three generations happy. As usual, a little communication goes a long way.
Talk to the parents and ask about what the children need and/or want. Lots of parents are happy to make suggestions to grandma (yes she still does most of the shopping) and appreciate being asked. Maybe the baby needs a winter jacket or the pre-schooler wants a first bike. Perhaps put half the money usually spent on gifts toward a college fund for the child and the other half for a present. Instead of another toy or more clothes, buy tickets to a play or a museum or the circus and make a day of it with the grandchild. As we all know, a day’s outing with tickets, lunch and a souvenir can run well over $100, not something all parents can easily afford. And time spent alone with grandchild can be the best present of all–a lasting memory–and that’s priceless.