Think back to Christmas of the past and what do you remember?
I recall as a child getting a Bluebird A La Carte kitchen, wheeling it into my parents room in the early hours of Christmas Day and ‘making them breakfast’ - well the thought was there.
At some point I remember unwrapping a mini Post Office, a scooter and roller skates but I
certainly don’t remember all of the presents I was given at Christmas.
Speaking to my parents, they reeled off a few more things, but all of us struggled to recall much detail.
My parents weren’t Scrooges, nor was I ungrateful for all I was given, but my Christmas memories are not present based.
So it makes me think that filling stockings and pillowcases and piling presents under a tree isn’t really that important for children in the long-term – despite the immediate pressure placed on parents at this time of year.
And there does seem to be a pressure. This week the BBC and pollsters YouGov did some interesting research, which revealed that people tend to spend around £300 on each child.
The research shows that people in less affluent parts of the country spend more as a proportion of their income on Christmas than richer people do. We in Yorkshire are among the less affluent, the research shows.
Is around £300 per child too much?
In my mind yes it is – unless it’s a gadget that will last for years.
That stereotype of Yorkshire folk as being tight with money must apply to me – and I’m not a Yorkshirewoman, nor affluent.
I’m not a killjoy either. My son’s stocking will be filled but I’m following the ‘something to wear, something to read, something he wants, something he needs’ guide until my two-year-old is old enough to write a list. Then I’ll re-think my plan.
But I can understand the pressure parents with older children face. I remember as a teenager wanting what my peers had and that feeling of not wanting to miss out – and I’m sure my parents had to strike a balance somewhere along the way.
To me Christmas isn’t about presents, it’s about presence.
My memories of Christmases past are about playing with my cousins.
A typical Christmas would involve the mum of the oldest cousin arriving with a bag of ‘hand-me-down’ clothes which, before being shared around the cousins, we’d use to put on a show. It was awful, we’d devise some comedy or musical – or just jump about – and perform to adults who really wanted a few drinks and a natter.
When we got older we cousins would sneak off and get up to mischief; seemingly harmless pranks that we still laugh about now.
My own Christmas memories make me think that what matters is not what we unwrap, it’s the memories we make with the people we choose to share Christmas with.
This Christmas I’m excited that my child will see his cousins and second-cousins (there’s a lot of them) at family parties.
I feel that in years to come I’ll have the pressure of trying to find the ‘must-have’ present that other
parents face, so for now I’m taking the easy option.