Christmas is just around the corner. My wife and I have a relatively new tradition at our house. And our girls, 14 & 11, have surprisingly embraced it. We’ve decided that the Wise Men brought Jesus 3 gifts thus each person–Mom and Dad included– will each receive only three gifts. Now that the girls are older, Christmas is no longer about the sprawling packages that flow out from under the tree to every corner of the living room, and the frenetic weeks spent trying to find “stuff” to get everyone.
The girls still prepare their Christmas lists which include many items, but we now pick three from the list. Christmas is a LOT less stressful. At least for us. But a couple nights ago, we overheard the girls discussing their lists….
Daughter #1: “You can’t put the three things you want most at the top of the list — they’ll see right through that. You have to be smart. Put something you really want in the middle somewhere, just make the letters darker so it stands out a bit.”
Daughter #2: “You’re being dumb. It’s a list. You put things in order of importance. 1-2-3.”
Daughter #1: “Oh really? Do you really think that? You’re telling me Jesus actually wanted Frankincense and Myrrh? So you think Jesus just put “Gold” up at the very top of his list? Really?”
Daughter #2: ” You’re being retarded. Jesus didn’t even make a list. He was an infant! Wait, he wan’t even born yet!”
Daughter #1: “Whatever. Fine. Just go ahead and put “cell phone” at the top of your list and see what happens. I hope you like socks.”
Daughter #2: [thinking hard...] “So maybe I should move that to, like, #4 or #5 or something…….?”
Daughter #1: [smugly] “Don’t ask me — I’m ‘retarded’, remember? Good Luck**.”
[**When she said 'Good Luck' it sounded EXACTLY like the abductor / terrorist from the movie "Taken" with Liam Nelson]
So, my daughters have apparently turned Christmas into a game of strategy. Here we thought we would have a nice tie back to the original meaning and purpose of Christmas with the “Three-Wise-Men-Three-Gifts” thing, and they’re trying to game the system. Tweenagers. Well, since they attend Catholic school at least they knew what the Three Wise Men brought Jesus, which is more than I can say for most kids….
From what I can tell, here is the Daughter #1 strategy: Pepper Mom and Dad with multiple versions (aka revisions or updates) to the list such that every item is ranked differently on each version in the hopes that the ensuing frustration and confusion will result in a total collapse of the system, and a return to the “getting everything for Christmas” scenario.
The Daughter #2 strategy can be dubbed the “martyr” or possibly the “diversion” approach. She has filled her list with trivial items (popcorn, new pencils for school etc.) while providing a disclaimer stating that additional (i.e. better items not on the list) could be provided if we think she is “deserving” while conveniently providing some helpful examples of what “deserving” gifts might be. You know, just in case.
My strategy might just be gift cards. Because nothing says you’re worth more than $25, but not quite $50, like a $40 gift card.