Ready for a math puzzle? Pay attention and be sure to check your work because I don’t know the answer and I’m counting on you to get it right!
If on Christmas Eve, Amanda has three kids, ages 10, 7 and 19 months and the 10-year-old asks Santa Claus for assortment of nine gifts that total $243 and the 7-year-old wants $316 worth of presents that are 16 in number and the toddler just smiles a lot and says “Ho! Ho! Ho!” every time he sees someone wearing red, please solve if a = size of the boxes that hold the gifts, b = age of the child, c = price and x is where the fruit cake intersects d, which represents how many boxes there are, what’s the probability that I’m going to need a lot of Christmas “cheer” and a really big calculator to get me through the shopping season?
Bonus question for extra credit: Will 270 square feet of special Santa Claus wrapping paper be enough?
How is it that the simple act of buying Christmas presents for my children — something that is supposed to be joyful and, I might add, something I should be pretty well-versed in by now mind you — can cause me to have a stress-induced breakdown?
If only there was a person who would magically do this all for me. He would take care of the buying and the wrapping and the delivering. And he’d do it all in one night — in fact, he’d do it all in one night for everyone! And all we’d have to give him in exchange for this monumental effort are a few crumbly cookies and a glass of warm milk. He could wear a special outfit so we would all recognize him and not mistake him for a burglar when he showed up in the middle of the night. There would be logistical issues to consider of course — I mean how would he get around — but I’m sure somebody could figure something out.
I love Christmas shopping for my kids. I love reading their letters to Santa and figuring out what we are going to buy them. And I love choosing things that I think that they’ll love. It’s fun and really gets my holiday spirit going.
But I hate, hate, hate coordinating the process and trying to make everything equal. My kids are still young. And while maybe they should be better at understanding the value of money, right now I don’t think they do. So while we’ve acquiesced this year and decided to get our daughter that iPod she wants, it cost $138. And it’s in a small box. My elder son on the other hand wants a big fire house Lego set that comes in a ginormous box ($77), the Loopz game ($22) and a new bat for Little League ($50). Roughly the same amount monetarily, not even close in a geometric sense.
Three kids, different genders, ages, interests, wants and needs. Of course their present piles won’t be uniform. But how do you explain the disparity? And do you even need to to a 7-year-old? I think at some point yes, but that it is a conversation that happens after the big Santa Claus reveal. Not that I’m ready to go there either.
For now, I take the coward’s way out and make sure everything is equal. Not in the amount of money that we spend, but in the number of boxes that each child opens. (Even for the littlest guy who would be happy with just a box and some ribbon scraps.) That way on Christmas Day all three are opening the same number. Do they notice amidst the riot of colorful paper and bows and bags and toys? I don’t know. Would they even care if their sibling got one or two more parcels? I tell myself no, and that even if they did we could talk about it and explain why, but still can’t bring myself to do it.
How do you dole out holiday gifts in your house? Do you make it even or is your motto more “you get what you get and you don’t get upset?”