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to not give my children Christmas presents?

(72 Posts)
PastMidnightAgain Mon 10-Nov-14 15:39:27

I have three-year-old twin DDs. I'm from Southeast Asia, DH is French, we all live in England. I didn't grow up celebrating Christmas, though DH did -- his family (all in France) always exchanged presents, and still do, though it has never been a religious celebration for them. We spend Christmas with DH's family in France every year, and the children are showered in presents from all the relatives. All fine with me.

My quandary is this. As DDs get older and hear about Christmas from nursery and their friends, they have this year begun saying to me, "I'd like a trumpet for Christmas", etc. -- all very sweetly and un-presumptuously.

I haven't given DDs any Christmas presents in the last couple of years, as I figured they were too young to care anyway (though they have always gotten birthday presents and generally get new books and clothes throughout the year anyway -- they are not lacking!). WIBU to continue (ahem) my tradition of not giving them any Christmas presents, even as they get older, since this is not something I have tended to do, and it's not something people in my culture do that much? DH, bless him, honestly doesn't seemed fussed either way -- and he's not about to go out shopping for presents for them on his own! If DDs got any presents from me and/or DH, it would be because I went out and got them. grin

Essentially --
Reasons for not giving DDs Christmas presents: I haven't tended to; they don't need more stuff
Reasons for giving DDs Christmas presents: we live in a culture that does celebrate the holiday, so why not?

I'd be really interested to hear from other second- or third-culture people (for lack of a better term!) about how they've adapted their own traditions once they live in a new culture... Thank you!

ZeViteVitchofCwismas Mon 10-Nov-14 15:42:58

I am sorry but I think as they get older and the whole country is celebrating....they will get left out.

However encouraging them to ask for things is a different matter entirely. Lots of parents encourage them to ask, some dont simply dont.

I have managed to get one to 8 without really asking for things....but you will find, people all round them "so whats FC bringing you,...what do you want, what will you ask for etc" and their freinds will be receiving.

And its FUN!!! Those that had presents and FC had a magical time, so why not. You dont have to get much but living in UK< I would get them something...

Hakluyt Mon 10-Nov-14 15:46:37

Most religions/cultures have some sort of "giving lots of presents to children" day- does yours?

Tinkerball Mon 10-Nov-14 15:49:34

Why wouldn't your DH go out and get presents on his own?

PastMidnightAgain Mon 10-Nov-14 15:51:22

ZeViteVitch Thanks, yes, I have been wondering about whether they'd feel left out... I think I was hoping that since we celebrate the holiday surrounded by the French family in France, and since the girls get so many presents from the relatives, they wouldn't really be missing out. But it's true that leading up to Christmas, our flat here in England wouldn't be very festive, really, and DDs wouldn't have something special from Mum and Dad. Gosh, it sounds pretty grim now that I have it all written out! grin

Hakluyt Yup -- we celebrate Chinese New Year, and DDs get fat red packets full of cold, hard cash from me and all my relatives.

Altinkum Mon 10-Nov-14 15:53:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PastMidnightAgain Mon 10-Nov-14 15:54:57

Tinkerball DH really doesn't like shopping and I really do! He also thinks we already have enough toys/books/what-have-yous lying around, so isn't keen to add more stuff to our already-crowded space. He and I also both agree that DDs get plenty of Christmas presents from grandparents and other relatives. I don't think he's opposed to the idea of giving them Christmas presents, he just doesn't see it as such a big deal either way, really, whereas I wonder if there's a whole "socialisation" aspect of the holiday that the children might be missing out on.

HolgerDanske Mon 10-Nov-14 15:56:24

You have made some good arguments. It makes sense that as you didn't grow up celebrating it, it doesn't really feel relevant. But tbh I think a few small well-chosen gifts would be good. Maybe it's not so important now but as they get older it will be very hard for them to understand why you won't do it. Remember that although they will learn about their respective cultural heritages from you and their father, a whole lot of their own culture will be based on the UK and in the cultural narrative they see around them and are part of every day. Plus part of the Christmas ideal is to learn the pleasure of giving and the joy of making someone happy with a thoughtful gift. It doesn't have to be a lot - A stocking with some little treats and fun things, one or two gifts to open.

Gen35 Mon 10-Nov-14 15:57:07

I'm English but I lived in America and celebrated thanksgiving and Halloween there. Not celebrating does sound a bit joyless to me, you could buy small presents and decorate the place etc, if I lived in India I'd celebrate Diwali and other festivals as appropriate, at the end of the day it's mostly about food, family and friends and good times.

AlpacaLypse Mon 10-Nov-14 15:58:46

I think you should embrace Christmas smile! There's absolutely no need to go bananas over it, but a small tree, a couple of advent calendars and part of the ongoing allowance for clothes, books and toys wrapped up will mean they will feel part of the whole thing.

If you do decide to go for stockings, DO NOT let them hang them on the end of their beds, as they get older it gets increasingly difficult for Father Christmas not to wake them up when he tiptoes into the room in the early hours... stockings with us have always contained a Terry's Chocolate Orange, and a few bits that they'd have got anyway sometime - colouring pens, hair bobbles, fluffy warm socks, etc etc.

Winterbells Mon 10-Nov-14 16:00:36

We live in England and don't do christmas but other relatives do. My children are not missing out on anything. They don't get presents on christmas day from us but they do get small gifts from family. It's never been an issue, their school friends don't question it, nobody thinks it's weird/unkind etc.

So, no, I don't think you are being unreasonable.

Birthdays are a big celebration in our house, it's a special day to celebrate the person and, for us, that is far more important.

PurpleSwift Mon 10-Nov-14 16:00:58

I don't think Yabu however In England, christmas Is basically impossible to get away from unless you're a hermit that doesn't watch TV. You're children will see it all around them and will feel left out. Christmas can be magical! Embrace it.
You don't have to go all out. A small tree in the house, they'll love decorating it. A couple of gifts. And then you're off in France on the actual day so you really don't have a lot to do at home.

Laquitar Mon 10-Nov-14 16:02:55

We are not from uk either. There are some british traditions that i have never experienced myself as a child but i like my children to experience what the majority of the school does.
Thats on top of our own traditions s. the kids end up with more treats. Thats the plus of being second generation immigrant, isnt it?

ouryve Mon 10-Nov-14 16:05:21

I think it would be nice to celebrate at home, at least in a low key way - a few small things that you know they'd really appreciate, eg new outfits or something nice for their rooms and a nice toy, rather than the typically 21st century British half of the Argos catalogue, since it's part of your DH's culture, as well.

That way, they'd enjoy more of the culture they're immersed in, without feeing left out, but if any unkind child commented that they hadn't got much, they could genuinely say that they have Chinese New Year, so it's like having two Christmases!

QuintsBombWithAWiew Mon 10-Nov-14 16:06:00

The great thing about two cultures is that you get to celebrate both. BOTH. I am sorry, you live in Europe, and it will seem odd holding onto this particular aspect of your own culture, as your children will feel left out. As a parent you cant always let relatives pick up your slack. So far you have gotten away with not giving presents from mum, or mum & dad, but your children will notice. It does not have to be big, seeing as you also given the cash for Chinese new year.

PastMidnightAgain Mon 10-Nov-14 16:07:43

Thanks, all. Lots of really helpful comments as I sort through my thoughts on this. I think in the back of my mind I was wondering how left out DDs might feel, especially as they get older.

In any case, I now realise that it might be nice to at least have some decorations up -- a few fairy lights never hurt anyone! grin

Winterbells Good to hear. I've tended to have the same feeling on birthdays, too.

Laquitar Hah! Agreed -- with Chinese, French and British influences in their lives, I think my DDs are cleaning up!

MimiSunshine Mon 10-Nov-14 16:09:22

Your children wont feel like they're missing out because you go to family in France who celebrate it and include them in it all.

Your DD's perception of Christmas will be, 'we don't bother with decorations at home because we're away for Christmas day (+ X number of days either side). But when we get to France our Grandparents / Aunts / Uncles / whoever, have it all. Oh and as my mum and her family are Southeast Asian we get cash on Chinese New Year. Winner'.

Not actually giving gifts isn't not celebrating (you take part in the festivities in France) an you can still enjoy a Christmas movie or two.

PastMidnightAgain Mon 10-Nov-14 16:11:38

MimiSunshine I am totally waiting for DDs to be old enough to watch Elf.

gamingmum Mon 10-Nov-14 16:12:14

Someone I work with has never celebrated Christmas just through choice so his two children didn't get presents from their parents or santa etc. They are now in university and have not suffered with the lack of a Christmas at home and hold no grudges towards their parents.

fakenamefornow Mon 10-Nov-14 16:12:37

I love Christmas, I'd grab it if I were you, it's great. I don't think I'd get them anything more than stocking presents atm though, if they get loads of stuff in France, they don't need more. Having a tree at home, going to see Father Christmas, sending/receiving cards, even just saying 'happy Christmas' to people, all that stuff is great, so if you have no actual objection to Christmas, I'd do it. Also Christmas doesn't have to have any religious side to it at all if you don't want it to.

RiverTam Mon 10-Nov-14 16:14:21

I don't know what country you are from, but if I was bringing my DC up in that country and there were major celebrations that involved present-giving, then I would want my DC to be a part of it.

fakenamefornow Mon 10-Nov-14 16:15:09

Where about in China are you from? I ask because I went to HK near Christmas years ago, Christmas decorations were everywhere.

DuelingFanjo Mon 10-Nov-14 16:16:44

I feel like we go overboard for our DS to be honest. As a child we would get a stocking an one present, not really that much from extended family and friends.

I think as a nod to your DH's tradition a small present and stocking could be a compromise? You don't have to go all out and get a trumpet.

redexpat Mon 10-Nov-14 16:24:34

Am british, live in denmark. I really like being able to pick and choose and mix and match traditions. I understand that you dont want to go overboard - I feel the same about danish christenings and confirmations.

IMO a good comprimise would be a stocking. They tend to be smaller presents, plus a clemantine and chocolate money. You could get small jigsaws, finger paints, a little book, memory game, cards or dominoes...

notfromstepford Mon 10-Nov-14 16:29:25

Both my parents are eastern European and traditionally celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. So growing up (in the UK) we still did this AND celebrated on Christmas Day. It really was 2 cultures, 2 ways to celebrate.

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