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Lives of Doctor Wives

Saturday, August 31, 2013


So, I love going overboard for Christmas... I love having tons of stuff under the tree... I love the feeling of looking into my kids thrilled and overwhelmed eyes... I love watching them stare with AWE at it all... I love the over-indulgence....
The problem is... I think I'm the ONLY one in the family that cares. My kids never play with half (or more) of what they get. I really need to do WAY less.

Tell me its the right move and why....please????


(Abridged to remove identifying information)


When we get to a certain place in our medical life, options open up. This is neither fully good nor fully bad, it's just fact. For most of us there will eventually be a day when not buying a new toy at every Target visit becomes a choice, not a necessity. And after many years of being The No Mom, it can be intoxicating to be The Yes Mom. The discipline to say 'no' when it's the right thing to say is a priceless gift to our children, as much as it may pain us to reel ourselves in when we're out of control.

Put yourself in your child's shoes, if you need motivation.

Think about how you feel when you open that set of ugly dishtowels from your great-aunt, or the bedazzled sweatshirt 2 sizes too big from Grandma, or the asparagus steaming pot from your MIL who always forgets that you don't like asparagus. Even "useful" things like lotion in a scent you don't like from the neighbor, or a mug that's the wrong size from a girlfriend, are not really gifts if you didn't want them and won't use them. You feel twice as disappointed by the thoughtless gift that's just a placeholder than you would have if there had been no gift at all, but just a sincere card written with affection. You feel burdened by now having to keep track of the stupid things, or return them, or clean them up, or find a place to put them, or haul them to a donation center, or regift them. You feel invisible to the giver, like they're just going through the motions because of obligation instead of REALLY looking at YOU, at the you of you, at the things you really want and would really love. Bad gifts are worse than no gifts.

And if over half of what you're giving your kids is going unused, those are bad gifts, even if they were pleasurable to buy, even if they seemed like fun at the store. You're burdening the kids with all of it for the pleasure you get from anticipating what they'll look like for an hour on December 25th.

You are a smart, creative person. Use your creativity differently--instead of having to dream up more things to buy just to create The Big Reveal, try thinking of the 2 or 4 or 6 items that will get the same dazzled, amazed response--not because it's SO MUCH, but because it's JUST RIGHT. The Just Right thing blesses the giver, because of the pleasure of giving it, and also blesses the receiver, because it's about them, and not about you. Which, really, is the entire point.


Cristin has marched alongside her academic attending husband for 18 years, through medical school, eight years of residency + fellowship #1 + fellowship #2, four moves, four kids, and a crazy lot of laughs. You can submit questions confidentially to dearcristin@outlook.com.

2 Comments:

Blogger From A Doctors Wife said...

Thanks for linking this post up with Medical Mondays! You are right on so many levels. Less really is more especially when it is just right:-)

September 2, 2013 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Anna Myatt said...

If you REALLY love seeing lots of things under the tree and the shopping etc... Do it. But don't do it for your family. Go shopping for others who can't afford much if anything for Christmas. As a doctor wife, remember those years when money was tight and find local med students with a baby or two trying to figure out how to stretch their pennies. Wrap them up, put them under the tree and have the pizzazz shot you are looking for. Better yet, use it as a teaching lesson for your kids who maybe didn't have to endure the struggles with you and think they are entitled to it. If your kids are bored by a overwhelming bounty... Lessons of giving and gratitude are probably the best gift you can give them.

September 16, 2013 at 6:51 PM  

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