I never got Christmas presents in my childhood. Did you?

(108 Posts)
ssaw2012 Tue 04-Dec-12 13:19:51

I have just read "Kids' presents", which makes me feel quite guilty as we cannot afford expensive presents. We have two children and if we spend £30.00 in total, that would be perfect. They do get toys throughout the year so they do not grow without toys and I hope they can understand it. One problem is that they often ask for useless toys. They tell us how much they want something and then after a few days the toy is forgotten.
I grew up without hardly any toys. We had a Christmas tree but never presents. I do remember getting a present for my birthday perhaps once or twice. There were three of us and our parents did not earn much. Never theless, I did not ask for presents. I was very understanding at that time. It is now that I think that they could have actually prepared something, even a tiny one.

elizaregina Tue 04-Dec-12 13:27:38

It was probably all a bit different back then ssaw - some fams just arnt present orientated - i certainly got some but nothing like goes round today..having said that i didnt feel any loss on xmas at all. i never asked for things either!!!
Nowadays you can get so many things for younger children for nothing on freecyle or at car boots - or charity - ebay etc....

it depends on how old the children are.

i am personally discouraging my DD from asking for what she wants for a long time yet - she is 5. she has got a mix of stuff from the above this year....

last years absolute smash hit present that is still going strong a year on - was - about 40 lion king figurines from freecyle - ie free.

ReindeerBollocks Tue 04-Dec-12 13:32:03

I think it's really sad that you didn't get christmas presents as a child.

I did get Christmas presents and although we asked for things we knew that we weren't always going to get everything on it.

My children are the same. As long as you manage your children's expectations then surely that stops them developing an overly materialist view of toys.

redskyatnight Tue 04-Dec-12 13:32:20

I think someone made the point on the presents thread that you can't really compare yourself to others. We are spending more than £30 on our DC (though way less than lots on that thread) but we literally only buy the DC toys on their birthdays and at Christmas - they don't get other things during the year.

We did get presents at Christmas but it was normally only 1 big present (think board game big, not bike/playstation big!) and a few little bits in a stocking. Once we stopped believing in FC it was more likely to be something practical like a jumper.

HECTheHallsWithRowsAndFolly Tue 04-Dec-12 13:33:52

Yeah. I used to get loads.

Often, they were sold in January though.

The mystery of the disappearing toys... hmm

My sister once came home from school to find something of hers on the coffee table. Waiting to go.

When I was older, we were given money.

Which I would hang on to because I knew that they'd need it back.

My sister - the wise one! grin would leg it as soon as the shops opened and spend the lot on crap! Muggins here would save it for them.

They've always been like that. Totally shit with money and utterly irresponsible. (buying fags instead of loo roll and leaving us to wipe our arses on pages from books and sometimes newspaper)

The one that hurt though, was the makeup compact my aunt gave me. My mum snapped it in half and took the mirror half.

When I complained about this, my dad got cross and said "your mum never has anything"

Not exactly true.

She had the fags and chocolate while I got paper cuts on my arse grin

My children are knee deep in toys and games.

And my cupboard generally has in excess of 40 loo rolls at any given time grin

DeWe Tue 04-Dec-12 13:36:06

Dh always complains at the number of presents the dc get. But well over half are things they'd need anyway. They usually get new toothbrushes, underwear, school clothes, stationary for school, things they need for music practice, and some notelets for thank you letters. I've even been known to wrap socks separately!

They like opening presents, so I think I might as well make the boring stuff interesting. They've never complained. They don't (usually) get expensive presents, just a fair number, and quite a few of the presents will be second hand too.

So I think it's possible to give a few presents without spending excess money. On actual presents rather than things they need it probably is around £30-£40 max. The dc don't often ask for particular things which helps.(advantage of no TV-no advertising!)

When I was in primary school there was a tradition that on your birthday you could stand up in assembly and say what you'd got shock and everyone sang "happy birthday".
Somehow the head managed to make the child who'd got a pencil and a rubber from her siblings sound just as lucky as the one standing next to her her claimed (probably untruthfully) that his uncle had rocked up and given £200, and his parents had given a TV.

For the record that was an actual pair. I didn't register it at all (about school year 4) but my dm was there and mentioned it a few years ago. I remember the little girl's family well (I think there were 7 of them) but I don't remember them talking about presents, so I don't think it registered how little they got. I do remember one or two of the excess claims though.

EldritchCleavage Tue 04-Dec-12 13:38:25

We had very little, as we lived in a developing country where there was almost nothing to buy and we didn't have much money to buy it with. Still, my parents managed: a book each (massive treat, we had no TV), sweets, then usually a new dress my mother had made. I got socks one year (posh ones, imported from Europe!) and was so excited.

We saved pocket money to buy each other and our parents small presents from the local market like a comb, or made necklaces out of shells, a picture or something.

Hec, my sister is like you. Her reaction to all the shortages growing up is to have a massive cupboard in her house with huge stacks of everything and a vast secret stash of Minstrels!

NatashaBee Tue 04-Dec-12 13:40:23

We were absolutely dirt poor - I remember my dad walking round with holes in his shoes which he fixed with cardboard, and sometimes dinner was bread and butter, we always had something at birthdays and Christmas though. Thinking back, the presents were probably second hand and inexpensive, but when you're a child, it's just exciting to have a present waiting for you in the morning.

dashoflime Tue 04-Dec-12 13:43:33

I also think its sad you didn't get presents sad

A word of caution about "managing expectations":

I never asked for things as a child.
I had totally internalised our financial situation.
I knew really well that it was n't reasonable to ask for things.
I'm sure lots of people thought how well behaved and contented and non materialist I was.

Fast forward 30 years: I can't buy myself clothes, I can't get a haircut, I can't plan holidays, I even sometimes have difficulty buying things for DS (I force myself) even though I can afford to do so.

Whenever I see something I like, I feel like its not acceptable to want it and I feel horrible anxiety until I leave the shop.

DualFuel Tue 04-Dec-12 13:43:40

Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn't depending on whether there was any money. I enjoy giving mine presents but they get a mix of new and secondhand and we are going to stick to that, I learnt to really value whatever we had tegardless of whether it was new, a charity shop find or my cousins hand me downs.

valiumredhead Tue 04-Dec-12 13:45:53

We always had presents for Christmas ALWAYS. Looking back very little was actually spent on them but my mum must have spent months making dolls clothes/Barbie beds etc. She was amazing and I never realised there wasn't much money around.

Theicingontop Tue 04-Dec-12 13:46:35

No, not after I turned 5 or so, when felt tip pens and pound shop colouring books weren't as appreciated. Nor for birthday which is just before Christmas. My OH was shocked to learn the birthday cake he bought me the first year of our dating was my first ever.

My parents were unemployed and raised five of us on benefits, with a bingo and cigarette habit to look after. We always had a tree and a ceiling full of those ugly foil garlands though wink

Having a child has made me excited about Christmas for the first time in my life, I think it's lovely grin
And as long as your children are excited that's all that matters, too much emphasis goes into what they're receiving and not enough on the atmosphere of the whole holiday. They won't remember their presents when they grow up, but they'll remember the excitement and not being able to go to sleep on Christmas eve etc. That's what will stay with them.

EldritchCleavage Tue 04-Dec-12 13:47:32

My mother made dolls clothes too! That was the best, we loved those.

valiumredhead Tue 04-Dec-12 13:48:50

Just remembered we had hand sewn nighties too -and she smocked the cuffs and chest. Must tell her tomorrow how fab they were smile

Proudnscaryvirginmary Tue 04-Dec-12 13:49:08

This thread's quite sad (and shock at Hec! Are you really grin about it or is that with a great deal of hindsight/therapy?!!)

But it's actually irrelevant about the presents/non presents.

We got loads of presents (not rich but comfortable) and, to be fair, my parents made Christmas a nice time but this doesn't mean I look back at my childhood and smile dreamily. Because for the most part it was unhappy, confusing and dominated by selfish parents who made terrible decisions!

Ephiny Tue 04-Dec-12 13:52:59

Yes I did, though I do remember Christmas presents were just for us kids, adults in the family didn't exchange or expect presents from each other.

It was often second-hand stuff though, and I remember if grandparents or other relatives visited and brought new shop-bought stuff, it would often be put to one side and taken back to the shop for the money once they'd gone home!

I don't think kids need expensive presents though. When they're little it's surely more about the anticipation and the fun of opening presents etc than the actual material thing? Or maybe not these days!

HECTheHallsWithRowsAndFolly Tue 04-Dec-12 13:56:35

You have to laugh! grin

If you can't find a way to laugh, it has the potential to make you bitter.

I remember eating the contents of the christmas hamper (that my mum paid for through the year and which was delivered just before christmas) by the light from the gas rings because we'd no food in the house and no electric (the Christmas Miracle was we'd got money on the gas meter grin )

I feel sorry for them because they're 60 now and still in the same mess. They've never learned.

I do resent their selfishness when it comes to my kids though. I haven't been able to find a way to laugh that off.

I don't think it matters whether you give your kids one present or one hundred.

Just let the buggers keep it! wink

Goldenbear Tue 04-Dec-12 13:57:34

Yes we did. Some years my brother and I got a lot - we didn't ask for it. Other years we got a lot less as it totally depended upon how well my Dad's business was doing. However, i think we were always pretty lucky when it came to gifts, when my parents got divorced we pretty much got double as my Dad felt a lot of guilt about it all. He's completely unmaterialistic so he probably would not believe this was the case- looking back.

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Dec-12 14:01:28

Some years I got loads, some years I got nothing. It all depended on the races the week before Christmas. Ah, the joys of compulsive gambling!

I don't think I overspend on DS, it probably helps that he's not overly materialistic but hopefully that's because I try to keep things on an even keel generally for him - no feast or famine round our house [hgrin]

elizaregina Tue 04-Dec-12 14:02:29

Personally i think the day is about the warmth generated and the fun - a few crap presents are made much easier to bear if there is " merriement" mt DH family are really good at presents they are really " hot" on it.

gifts are always being exchanged here there and everywhere etc...

BUT the atmos opening them - in a special no go zone room only used once a year is fraught with tension and anxiety - and you are very aware you are in the MIL's " special room" you are sat on her " cream sofas" you are not allowed anything coloured to drink in there!

you sit - awkardly - and uncomfortably and open a nice gift which is lovely but you dont enjoiy yourself - and there is no chit chat. its horrid!

id much rather open - as I did once - my dads offering to me of.......................................

two" left" foot slippers - granny style from m and s - one size 5 , one size 8 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and laugh up roarisoulsy about it - than sit in that prison on a house- with no laughter - just up tight posing - and poncing not even able to have a glass of red wine!

nickelbabylyinginamanger Tue 04-Dec-12 14:02:53

sad at some of your stories.

I think it is important, like icing says, that there is that excitement about the season and the day more than the presents.
It's exciting to see the lights and it's exciting to put the tree up and put things under it - who cares if they're expensive or shop bought or second hand or free or homemade.

I was lucky to grow up in a household that was clever enough with money to make sure we always had exactly what we needed and sometimes what we wanted, too.
My dad worked really hard to make sure his mortgage was paid off in 12 years (evenings and weekends) instead of 25, and when the opportunity to buy a bigger house further up the street came up, he didn't take it because he was on strike at the time and didn't want to risk the mortgage defaulting.
sometimes my dad's sensibleness about money was annoying, but it meant that in tough times we always had enough. never extravagant, but never without.

didn't stop the stupid arguments on birthdays and christmas ruining any joy of any presents, though. but that's another story.

Proudnscaryvirginmary Tue 04-Dec-12 14:03:21

Good God. Well glad you can laugh about it though - you're right, it's the best way. And at least you know exactly how not to bring up your own kids!

FrostyTheSnowSlut Tue 04-Dec-12 14:14:38

We were always skint, but I used to get Christmas presents.

Christmas, I used to get a shoebox with sweets and again presents that my mum bought throughout the year, things like a chocolate bar, some pencils, it was all really cheap stuff from Dagenham/Walthamstow market and maybe a bit of money from my grandparents. Then always a dress to wear on the day and at new year. The dress was invariably nicked with tags or fell off the back of a lorry down the docks.

It was ok where we lived everyone was poor, although I know some of my friends got more than me. I think I was a bit disappointed by it all but I new my parents did what they could and if I really wanted something my Dad would steal find a way to get it for me. As long as they know you're doing what you can I think most DC understand.

I also had my toys sold when I didn't want them to be but hey money was tight .

Theicingontop Tue 04-Dec-12 14:21:22

lol HEC, I'm the same with milk!!! My parents never bought fresh milk because 'we'd use too much on our cereal or drink it, and it was far too expensive for drinking' so they bought the powder stuff for their tea knowing we'd leave it alone unless we were desperate for some rice krispies.

I don't think, since moving out at the ripe old age of 17, that I have ever run out of milk!!

No not after I was around 7. No birthday either. Never bothered me til I was a teen and my friends were all getting expensive gifts and I got nothing. As a child I never cared. I was happy enough to make believe and wasn't fussed about toys which I guess is due to the fact I didn't really have any. My dcs have plenty. Nothing expensive mind but they don't go without.

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