Guest Posting From My Wife - Chanukah Gifts, Unwrapped?
It seems that I learn more and more gift giving tricks with each passing Chanukah. A Simple Jew and myself have really down-played the whole idea of gift giving during Chanukah. Our children receive gifts from some of our family members. These gifts I save for during Chanukah so the children have something to open the first night. We definitely do not associate gift-giving with the lighting of the menorah. We learned this the hard way after the first time our then 2-year old daughter screamed every time we lit the menorah just so she could get to the gift. Now, she is 4 1/2 and barely even asks for a gift after the menorah lighting. It almost seems as though she does not even expect a gift from Mommy and Daddy.
I've been speaking with many friends lately who are all disillusioned by the way their children act during Chanukah, especially when they seem to reject or be ungrateful of gifts that people give to them. A friend of mine told me that her two eldest daughters seemed totally unappreciative of expensive digital cameras that were given by their grandparents and that her two youngest boys could have cared less that they got brand new scooters. She said to me, "What have my husband and I done to create such spoiled and ungrateful children?" To this, I have no answer. It just makes me ponder the whole idea of gift giving during Chanukah and how I can try to do things differently with our children. The worst feeling a parent can have is when their children seem to act ungrateful, especially around people who have been thoughtful enough to buy gifts to them.
Admittedly, I do have a bunch of gifts that I did stockpile before the holiday in case I felt pressured to give the kids each a gift. However, this year I did not even wrap the gifts. I find that if I present the children with unwrapped gifts, they are much more appreciative and do not act disappointed. They are just simply thankful to have something new to play with or wear. I am not professing to be an expert in child-rearing or gift giving, but it this day in age when it is becoming more and more challenging to raise grateful, unspoiled children in a materialistic society, this is just a glimpse of our simple way of looking at gift-giving during Chanukah.