When is enough. Enough?

It’s December 25th.

We are up at the fucking crack of dawn.  We have to drive 90 minutes to some tiny little town where Adam’s stepmom’s kid lives.  We get to spend the morning with them.  Luckily, Adam’s mom’s family also lives in the same tiny little town so we get to spend the afternoon with them.

So we drive our 90 minutes and we get there around 9:30 ish.  In case you aren’t listening it’s 9:30.  We’ve driven 90 miles to watch someone else’s family open gifts.  Which I might have mentioned is one of my least favorite things to do.

Ahhh, the step family.

The mother:  I’m doing my own analysis but I’m pretty sure she was a cheerleader in high school and maybe college.  She is sweet and perky, with a southern accent.

The father:  He was the football player.  He loved it so much that he became a football coach for the local high school.  Based on the five minutes I spent there on christmas morning his idea of marriage and parenting is probably based on some 1950’s tv show.  Once we made our way into the house with presents, put our coats away and made our way to the kitchen for coffee, he planted himself on the sofa where he read the newspaper until about 15 minutes into present opening when his wife made him “join” us.  I don’t remember what the kids got but one present prompted the story of the father driving the car with huge headphones plugged into the wife’s computer so that he wouldn’t miss the game.  (1.  It’s illegal to drive with a headset on.  2.  If you are traveling with your family then perhaps you might want to engage with them?)

The son:  Clearly the favorite.  Is adorable.  And sweet.  And I hope he grows up gay to piss off his father.  He’s 2-ish.

The daughter:  Unfortunately overweight.  And it’s my guess that she isn’t allowed to forget it often.  She’s a awesome and outgoing, and funny, and kept Adam laughing while she showed him what she got in her stocking.  She was pulling things out and when she got to some panties, she tossed them behind her and pretended they’d never been there.  She’s very smart.  She’s 7ish.

And the reason I fill you in on all of this is:

We get there.  We get coffee.  I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate flavored creamer.  I don’t mind if it’s skim, whole, half and half etc.  but I want milk in my coffee.  And I really hate when people thing they are doing you a favor by having it.  Just give me milk dammit.  Unfortunately it’s our only option so I use it.

So we take our coffee and plant ourselves in the living room.  I should point out here that only in Texas have I seen the “wall of crosses.”  They’ll take one wall of the living room and dedicate it to crosses.  Of all types.  Sizes.  Description.  Most of them are variations on celtic crosses.  They even have stores in the mall that specialize in crosses.  One whole wall of the living room is a cross wall.  Adam’s cousin Emily has one too.

So we are in the living room.

And we are surrounded by presents.  What seems like hundreds and hundreds of presents.  The floor is covered.  And 90% of the presents are for the two kids.

Which brings me to my point.

I’m not a parent.  I’ll never be a parent.  So maybe I’m talking out of my ass and I’d be the same way.

But isn’t there a point where it’s all too much.  When I was six I would have been happy to get 1/4 of what they got.  The gifts were piled on top of each other.  In fact the father made a point of trying to build a fort around the daughter with all of her gifts.  It would have been easy to have hidden her completely.  They had no idea who gave them what.  They would rip the paper off a gift, and then move on to the next one.  The whole time I’m sitting there with my mouth on the floor that a 7 and 2 year old would even get this many gifts combined through the whole holiday, let alone in one sitting.

The thing that really bothered me was how many of the gifts were meant to keep the kids out of the hair of the parents.  The joke was made more than once, especially when the daughter opened a flat screen, digital tv that’s the same size we have here.  Like I said I’m not  a parent and I’m sure that I’d love to have a room to send them too.  But I have to think that at some point you might want to engage your kids.  You might want to watch TV with them.  You might want to do karaoke with them.   You might want to play a game with them.  Or hey.  Talk to them.  But of course that’s just me.  It’s easy to sit here with Harper snoring next to me and tell them how to be better parents.

The unwrapping started around 10:30.  We had to leave at 11:45 to go see Adam’s mom and they kids were still unwrapping gifts.  God knows how much longer it took them to get to the bottom of the pile.

We are four hours into the morning.

The rest of the day tomorrow.

So for my readers who are parents…really?  When is it toooo much?

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4 thoughts on “When is enough. Enough?

  1. Lemuel January 26, 2011 / 06:31

    The pile of presents is absolutely too much! There are strong hints in your post, Maddog, that you would make a far better parent than these two. I raised two sons, engaged with them, did not drown them with presents, loved them.
    What I see here are “trophy parents” (cheerleader/quarterback) with “trophy kids”. The pile of presents is a substitution for real love, commitment to, and interaction with the children (and probably each other as well).
    The post rather reminded me of some classic novels that I’ve read in which the author skillfully describes some detail of the scene that is the symbolic key to what is going on. In this case for me, it is the wall of crosses, a symbol of the gross superficiality and misplaced excesses of this family.

  2. Sarah January 26, 2011 / 10:17

    It is easy to be a great parent when you don’t have kids. Trust me. I know from experience.

    A TV is an inappropriate gift for a seven year old but maybe she doesn’t want to watch sports and whines to her dad and he had to do something to shut her up because can’t she see he’s trying to watch the gosh darn game!

    Piles of presents. Hard to judge. Do the kids get everything they see during the rest of the year? It might just be a big blowout at the end of the year. Maybe they spend the rest of the year spending money on crucifixes.

  3. Catrina January 26, 2011 / 12:40

    My Christmases amounted to two or three presents, and, now that I think about it, I never really noticed. My best was when I was 12 and my brother was 8 that we got a mini-bike. It was for both of us, and my other gifts were a comb and brush set and a pair of pajamas. I was quite happy with it all. Also, I actually played outside on snow days (and summer days), I WAS the TV remote, and the only things to distract us from being a family were the TV and the phone, both of which were turned off at dinner time.
    Sadly, those two kids have/will have a much less happy childhood than mine.

  4. Karen January 26, 2011 / 15:45

    Interesting question. I have a 12 year old and a 22 year old. I spend about on $300 each on Christmas. Both got a camera, new pajamas, a few books, younger one got a Nook, older one got a cupcake maker and cash. People at work agonize over what to give, because they have a MUCH higher amount they spend – like $500 on each kid. Another friend rotates which kid gets a big gift each year. This time it was a laptop. About $800. The other kids get about $100 each.
    To me what you experienced was too much. Way too much.

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