Red let her son open my Christmas gift as soon as the package came, which meant that, to my good fortune, my gift got to stand alone instead of being part of a pile on Christmas morning. He was really excited about it, and even called to thank me. I think that it would be great if each gift got that sort of pride of place, but it is difficult in the rush of Christmas for a child to really stop, think, and appreciate each present. Enter the Wednesday pile.
After the gifts are opened on Christmas morning and one or two are selected for immediate play, most things will go to a shelf in the basement called the Wednesday pile. Wednesday is our day without outside activities, and while we all need the break mid week, by February, Wednesday can seem like a very long and lonely day. Thus, Wednesday becomes the day to take out a new Lego set, board game, book or toy from the pile and then that present gets the child’s full attention for several days. On this day, I am more free to help and participate if it is a new toy or game which requires set up or supervision.
With this strategy in place, our Christmas fun lasts through most of the long gray days of winter, keeping the children occupied and helping us all to avoid cabin fever. We are able to find a proper home for a new gift rather than feeling like we are drowning in toys, and I can gradually cull old things that are out grown.
As you all know, I have some issues with clutter, and December 26th used to be a sad, sad day in our house, I would just sit overwhelmed looking at the gifts, even my own, and wondering where it would all go. Eventually, I began to stress about this feeling througout December, and it really turned me into a grinch. Before you judge me for this, just think about the multiplier effect. If each of my children receive just four presents, that is 24 presents, and because they are close in age, it is likely to be 24 toys.
I have found that it is really helpful to look at what your holiday stressors are and see what might be done to make this time of year more joyful — one lesson that I have finally learned is that I cannot change or control other people, and I should not try, so instead of, for example, continuing to ask them to give us fewer gifts or experiences instead of gifts (honestly, I don’t even want that many experiences on our schedule at this point!), I just needed to find a way to manage the gifts which suited my needs and goals. It is just another example of what Kat called setting yourself up for success. Oh, and I fully acknowledge that this is completely a first world problem and that complaining about too many gifts is irrational, which is why I am glad that you won’t find me doing it anymore!