The popular perception is that grandparents empty their pockets to fill the toy boxes and closets of their grandchildren. Maybe that’s what some grandparents do. Not me.
It’s not that I’m cheap, but if I am, that’s only part of the story.
When the first grandchild was born (was it really 16 years ago?) I decided that I didn’t want Steffi to be glad to see me just because I came loaded with treats.
More grandkids came along and I built my own relationship with them, but those relationships were not built on Gammy being a year-round Santa Claus.
I had always filled Christmas stockings for my grown kids and, as each married, for their spouses. Should I begin filling little stockings for the grandchildren, too, even though they got a stocking at home? I gave in and started stockings for the grandchildren. That finally added up to 14 stockings.
Each grownup seemed to end up with about 10 wrapped gifts. But I gave the grandchildren only one gift.
Why so much for the adults and comparatively little for the grandchildren?
It was because there was an explosion of gifts for the grandkids under their own Christmas tree, but their parents gave relatively little to each other. Even my grown kids stopped giving to each other as they concentrated on their kids. Christmas was for kids – and that became their mantra.
I didn’t agree. Christmas is for everyone, and I wanted my own kids to get excited about what was under my tree. When they came to my house Christmas morning, they were like little kids all over again. They had provided a little magic for their kids at their house and I was providing a little magic for them at my house. It made sense to me!
I had to start collecting gifts in January and, in fact, relegated one room in my house for gift storage and wrapping. Every year, gift-giving became a 12-month job, starting with the post-holiday January sales.
But I got older.
The families got bigger.
And it became exhausting instead of being fun.
So two years ago, I announced that the Christmas stockings were history.
Guess who cared?
Not the grandchildren. Santa came to their house early in the morning, didn’t he? Why would he
come again to my house and fill a second stocking for them?
It was the adults who cared.
They protested – just a little.
They applied pressure – quite a lot.
They really, really looked forward to those silly stockings.
So now Santa comes to my grandchildren in their own house where they also open the big gifts from mommy and daddy. And then Santa comes to my house to take care of my kids and my kids-in-law.
Christmas morning, at my house, my grandchildren open their usual gift from Gammy along with gift exchanges with their aunts and uncles while my grown kids check out the multi surprises. Some are funny. Some are sentimental. But they let me know how much fun they’re having as they laugh, compare what each got and even sometimes trade.
Am I short-changing my grandchildren? Probably. Am I being fair? Probably not. But at least when my grandchildren give me a hug or say that they love me, it’s authentic. I know it’s not because they think I’m the gift fairy.
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