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ZagZig Santa: Equal or Equitable at the Holidays?

Oh, the holidays…a time of highs and joys, girls and boys, gifts and toys. Among the glow of lights, music that excites and dessert delights, the stress of gift giving can raise the blood pressure to new heights.

So, here is the question of the day, the week, the season: how do we define equal – by the number of gifts or the amount that is spent? It can be a parent dilemma, especially as the kids enter the teen and young-adult years.

There was a time, years ago, when my husband and I stood in line to get the hot, new toy of the season, back when “Tickle Me Elmo” had its first popular run or a new Transformer or Lego set that just got released. In those days, we easily got caught up in the thrill of racing from store to store to make sure we got items on the lists from four little munchkins who had hopes and dreams that Santa would visit soon with a bag full of toys.

At that point, we could easily count each of the presents, and make them equal or the same. As the kids got older, we shifted from equal to equitable, from the same to fair, from even to impartial.

With age, preferences changed from the hot toy to the newest electronics, and equal became a little tricky. After all, a computer for college is not quite equal in value to a new Lego set; or a new pair of sneakers is not equal to a pair of earrings.

From a process standpoint, life did get easier; instead of waiting in line at a store, we could go online and get it delivered to our door. As a matter of fact, albeit anti-climactic after the thrill of finding a prized “Tickle Me Elmo,” our daughter informed us that she would go online and order “the right thing” herself that we could wrap and put under the tree so that she could ensure she got exactly what she wanted. Well, okay!

With maturity, the kids also had improved the ability to count, by number and by value – or at least the older ones did. I will always remember the look on Number 4’s face when he was out of gifts, but his sister kept opening. That was the year, he had asked for a few big Lego sets and his older sister asked for smaller accessories. If you have not priced Legos lately, let’s just say once the kids pass the Mega Blocks and the primary sets, those 1,000 piece builds are no small chunk of change.

Now, as I have pointed out in the past, this is a high-class issue to manage. We are blessed in many ways. These examples illustrate a ZagZig in parenting during the holidays, when Santa shifts from his team that focuses on young children to the elves that work with young adults.

For whatever it is worth, here are a few things from our own holiday (Mis)Adventures that might help you this holiday season:

  • Wrapping Paper Wrinkle: Everyone knows that Santa has his own wrapping paper, that is until you forget which one is his, and you inform the kids that he buys his paper from Walmart too.

  • Destination Procrastination: There always will be a glitch, so saving all the wrapping ‘til after the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve’ is risky, especially when one directionally-challenged parent has to yet assemble some toys.

  • I Believe to Receive: There is a point in time when Number 1 figures out the mystery of the man in the red suit, in advance of Numbers 2-4 who are yet to be in the loop. Enlist Number 1 in the mystery, or, when if that fails, threatened Number 1 with “only believers get gifts.”

And, as I already have mentioned, pre-determine the Equal-Equitable Formula, before your mom (Mimi, to her grandkids), in the midst of opening presents Christmas Day, hugs her grandson who is done opening gifts as she mouths over his head for you to find more presents – when there are no extra ones in the house.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, the parents were stirring and counting presents in the storage warehouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and the equitable fairy sprinkled her dust over there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, and the parents went a little crazy as visions of disappointed children danced in their heads. Then the Christmas Carol ghosts woke them to visions of Tiny Tim, as a great reminder that Christmas is not about all the presents but the presence of Him – baby Jesus!

Keep your feet on the ground as you keep reaching for parenting perfection, and know that us flawed parents will be there to soften your landing.

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