Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stocking Fillers

The Christmas junk mail has been arriving in my letterbox, full of pages of 'stocking fillers'.

When I think of a 'filler' I think of inessential things that have been included to make it fuller, or look fuller.

And that seems to be what 'stocking fillers' are, too.  Gifts that you buy people just so that they can have more stuff at Christmas, or to make it look like more.  Buying for the sake of buying.

We aim to have a small number of carefully chosen gifts at Christmas.  There are thousands of things we could buy for our children, but we don't want Christmas to be about getting a pile of presents that end up forgotten about.  For me, Christmas has a twofold meaning: celebrating the birth of Christ and celebrating family.    We don't do 'stocking fillers', though we do have an advent calendar with a treat each day - something yummy, a small toy, a fun place to go - and it is for the whole family, not just the kids.  This year we are adding the unfolding Christmas story in each window as well.    But the challenge is giving just the right amount of gifts, because opening presents is a lot of fun, but too many becomes overwhelming and wasteful.  We gave the Big Boy nothing for his first Christmas, and only one present for the next two Christmases, and three presents for the last two Christmases.  That combined with presents from grandparents and aunts and uncles is well and truly enough for someone so young.  The Small Boy (who is only one) this year will probably get just one present from us, and The Big Boy will get three or four or five, plus they'll each get six advent windows and maybe something from Santa (I'm not overly keen on Santa, and have taken The Big Boy's lead as to whether he would like Santa to visit).

NB: Yes, I get junk mail.  You can tar and feather me right now.  I don't mind reading it, and watching out for things to be on sale that I genuinely need/want to buy.  They don't really tempt me to buy more stuff: in fact, I'm working out that most things don't look anywhere near as good in real life as they do in the catalogue.    Plus, I used to deliver catalogues to earn extra money, and it made not one iota of difference to the number of catalogues I was given to deliver and the number of No Junk Mail stickers.  The number of catalogues had to do with the number of houses in the area, and I didn't need to report back how many weren't delivered.