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Parents Talk: Santa’s Spending Limit

Do the kids get what they want or do you stay within a budget?

Jobs have been lost. Houses have been foreclosed on. This year has been a tough one for budgets, says the media.

But it has not been a rough year for all. Because public classrooms are not determined by family income, kids of all economic statuses talk to one another. They watch TV, where there are commercials filled with amazing toys that will better their lives.  

This is not a new issue. Even in a perfect economy, there are children who are the “haves” and others who are the “have nots.”

Some kids get the most awesome gifts in the world. And others do not get very much.

Then, after some thought, the kids who didn’t get the big gift of the year want to know why Santa Claus (see discussion on ) likes them less than a classmate who received everything on his/her list.

My mom likes to tell this story:

It was the late 1970s and my brother Chris was 7 years old. He came home from school one December day and opened up the conversation with my parents like this: “Some guys at school were saying that Santa isn’t real.”

My mom remembers that her heart sank, and always a guilty soul, she was about to rattle off an apology.

Then Chris said: “I told them they’re wrong. I know there’s a Santa, because you and dad could not afford all those presents.”

This just illustrates that kids do notice the monetary value of their gifts.

For the kids who didn’t get what they asked for, Christmas or Hanukkah can become just another message of inadequacy. Yes, it is a lesson that we all must learn: life is just simply not fair. But does this message have to be reinforced by a stranger in a red suit with the reputation of being jolly?

So parents, do you get your kids the gifts they want and break the bank? Or hope they understand that Santa’s wallet is slimmer this year? 

If you'd like further reading on the topic of scaling back on presents, check out this fantastic blog What if Santa can't afford Christmas? by Psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini.

Clare Kennedy December 15, 2011 at 05:03 PM
We're not really doing Christmas this year, at least as far as gifts go. I'll probably go to midnight mass, but we've limited gift exchange to one item per person because of the economy.
Caitlin Burgess December 15, 2011 at 05:07 PM
For the past couple years my sister and I have been working together to buy for our parents. Since $50 doesn't buy what it used to, $100 between two of us has allowed us to buy a better gift without going over budget.

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