Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Family pleads for less this holiday season

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband and I have three beautiful children, ages 10, 3, and 1.

We are blessed with a large family on both sides. They are all incredibly generous, especially at Christmas. They love to give gifts, and we are grateful for their generosity. However, like many families with similarly aged children, we have come to find lately that we have an overabundance of, well ... stuff.

My husband and I have come to feel that we would like to stem the abundant flow of toys into our house, as our kids have far more than they could ever need or play with.

Not only that, but little ones just don't have the attention span to sit and open tons of presents. Last Christmas, it took my son three days to open all of the presents our families sent, even considering that my husband and I only gave our kids one gift a piece.

This year, we would really like to ask our families to avoid buying toys altogether. We would be fine with no gifts at all, but if our families insist, we would much rather the gift of experience. For example, memberships to local children's museums and zoos, contributions toward summer camps or extracurriculars, movie tickets, etc.

I know in general it is considered rude to ask for specific gifts. However, I fear that if we don't say something soon, we will be overwhelmed with toys again. We appreciate the thoughts, but we are at capacity.

I would feel terrible taking toys immediately to donation centers, but I think that's what will happen. Is there any gentle way to make this request without seeming greedy or ungrateful?

-- Up to Here with Gifts

Dear Up to Here: Many families will identify with your problem, which is a uniquely and embarrassingly modern issue. While many go hungry, others of us are actually drowning in an overabundance of stuff.

I think your idea is a good one, and I will join you in asking families to do less material giving during the holiday season.

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