Every Christmas and birthday since we’ve had a child, DH’s parents have gone crazy with presents for DC. They must spend something around $1K over the course of the year (including Halloween, Easter, etc.) on fun toys and clothing. They give more than I ever got from all sources when I was growing up. At first it was a bit overwhelming and we worried about rampant consumerism, but we adjusted to it and DC is still a sweetheart so we’re fine.
I mentioned this on the GRS forum the other day when the post was asking how much people spend on Christmas. We don’t spend much on Christmas– the grandparents crowd out our own spending so we just fill up the stocking. Someone was shocked and suggested that we sit down and have a talk with the in-laws and ask them to give money to DC’s 529 college saving plan instead if they’re going to go overboard like that.
Thing is, you don’t get to tell other people how to spend their money. They want to spend money on toys, not on education. That’s ok. It makes them happy. We don’t feel the need to pick out toys ourselves so we take the money we would have spent on holidays and clothing (and actually quite a bit more than that) and put it in the 529. We can do that. We appreciate their generosity.
It might be different if we were needy– we might say, gee, toys are great but we’d really love to be able to give our kids a great Christmas dinner or to be able to travel to see the relatives or afford after-school care. But we’re not. We can fund our own kid’s education, we can give hir the necessities, and we have no business telling other folks what to spend their money on. If they want to buy toys that make noise, so be it. We just won’t buy gifts ourselves (and we may fail to buy batteries…).
Now, we don’t have to actually give all the toys to DC, and (shhhh), sometimes we don’t. Sometimes a small subset goes straight to the gift-closet to be regifted at parties, especially if we already have a copy of the item or it’s something we disapprove of (DH is anti-weapon-toys, but many other parents aren’t). We don’t get to tell other people what to spend their money on, but we can decide what our child is allowed to play with.
That’s pretty much Miss Manners’ rules too. You don’t get to tell people what to give. They don’t get to tell you what to do with the gift. Nobody is a jerk about it. And those are the rules of polite society. They’re working well for us.
Do you “suffer” from this first-world problem? Have you ever had a conversation about it as the giver or the giftee? Did it go over well?