Friday, October 19, 2007

I shouldn't but I had to..

Opportunities to make parents spend money on their children is the sky's limit.

Every year, if I attend playgroups and mummy groups, we are bound to have gatherings of some sort, be it a group birthday party, Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations. We will be asked to buy a present, up to a certain limit we agree on, and do an exchange, or Kris Kringle for Christmas.

It makes the party and environment so much more fun no doubt, but at the end of the day, I think our children are being indirectly taught to expect something everytime they attend occasions of such.

If you are a popular mum, or dad, and you have at least five parties to go to, for argument sake, just for Christmas alone, being this time of the year, you will need to buy five presents, and your child will be getting five in return. Most of the time, parents will call the other parent of the child you are required to buy the present for, to ask what the child prefers, or rather, the parent prefers, in order not to get the wrong gift, or worse, a duplicate!

At playgroups, Santa will come a visiting and you will be required to bring a gift of a certain amount, usually minimal, and put it in the big red sack. You can't get an expensive one, because that will be so overshadowing the others, or make the less richer feel bad. But if you get any cheap ones, you know they are crap and will be destroyed in a matter of days.

Although it is not a culture shock for me, still, I cannot believe the amount of money we have to spend on just one celebration, on having to be sensitive on what to get and how other parents feel, and on the hype of it all. I am not a Christian so naturally I do celebrate the occasion back home in Malaysia. I did remember, however, Mum was required to get a gift for Santa at our private club, to give to me. So she brought me shopping for a pair of pants. On the day I received it, it wasn't a surprise, and I wasn't over the moon.

So what happens if I choose not to participate? It's not a problem at all, am sure the groups and parents won't mind. I save myself from calling five different parents asking what their child likes, from shopping for five presents and saving at least $50. The other parents won't have problems too, just one less gift on their list.

Now imagine on that day, everyone's name is being called out. Imagine Aidan looking on, and think 'Hey, there are prezzies to be given out! Wow! Colourful wrappings. Call me! Call me!' Surely he will get one too? Imagine his excitement and anticipation. Imagine the disappointment when the gift exchanging session is over and he got nothing. 'What happened? Where's MY present? You forgot me!' And he will be looking at me, as if saying 'Mummy! They forgot me. How come I didn't get anything?' Would I want to see that look in him and feel how he will be feeling? Upset and left out?

While we try so hard to teach our children to appreciate little things, on the other hand, we are forced to expose them to unnecessary luxuries like this.

Tis the world we live in. We are reluctantly sucked into the marketing niche of these businesses that makes millions of dollars each year. They know exactly where to hit the nerve.


mott said...

What I normally do is buy gifts throughout the year. That way, I actually save money. ;-)

Think the best gifts are actually books (but i find they r really ex in oz!)

Sweetpea said...

i try to do that. i know there are some great bargains, but my problem is that i forget what i buy :P

no kidding about the books!

Anonymous said...

Hi SP--I am amazed at how parties have escalated into very expensive affairs. And now you can't just invite a few children, you are pressured to invite the whole class.

It's interesting how much parents have to spend now on parties, gifts, etc. I'm impressed (smile).

Sweetpea said...

TNP - it is. parents are splashing out a fortune for fairy themes, pirate themes, etc. no longer are they satisfied with just a McDonald's party. hiring a jumping castle is the least one can do. and the helium balloons are not cheap either. and for party themes like these, they can't just invite 10.

i was a happy girl when my mum gave me money to spend at kentucky fried chicken with my close friends! i hope aidan will be just as happy with the same idea! :)