We spent five years purposefully not spoiling our son by buying him copious amounts of toys just because it was Christmas. He usually got four or five gifts which he was perfectly happy with, at least, that is, until he went to visit a cousin whose basement had been transformed into ToysRus. I suppose that could have been the driving force. I remember it like it was yesterday.
The boys ran downstairs to show him what they had gotten. My son entered the basement and stopped abruptly as if he had been hit in the chest, and his wind had been knocked out. His eyes grew larger than I had ever seen, his mouth fell open at the billions of boxes, and bags upon bags that engulfed 3/4 of the room. He said incredulously, "Wow! It's like you got one hundred gifts!" And my nephew, never one to miss an opportunity to let the world know just how blessed he is, replied smugly, "No, it's more like one hundred and one." Later, as we were leaving, my son pulled me aside and said in an almost heartbroken tone, " Mommy, I don't understand. I have been good, why didn't Santa bring me as many gifts?"
Yes, I am sure that was the turning point. We never really discussed it again, my husband and I, but this year something happened. Something was turned off -- like sanity, or maybe I just fell off the wagon (the shopaholic wagon). Or... maybe it was just that I had subconsciously decided to ensure that my son would never feel slighted again. He was just as special as other children. Whatever the reason, I can truly say my husband and I literally lost our minds this year. Every time I went out to shop even if it was for other people, I saw things that he really could use, justified them to myself, and bought them.
There was an arcade style Basketball shooting machine, an Xbox, Four Lego sets, two race car tracks, a marble run, and games, games, and more games.There were movies and remote control things. There were XBox and Wii games. There was a skateboard, and an electric scooter, helmet, and knee pads. There were even many boxes of Discovery educational scientific toys. It was absolutely ridiculous.
Thirty minutes into the unwrapping session, my husband began "psst-ing" me to get my attention. He then nodded towards the XBox and mouthed the words, 'save it for his birthday." I didn't miss a beat. Unbeknownst to him I had already yanked his name off of a couple of things myself while he frantically searched for the gift boxes he swore he had counted.
No, I do not want him to ever be heartbroken or to feel less than anyone else, however, there is a limit. And while I sat there watching him unwrap all those gifts, I realized that we had gone beyond ours.