Is It OK to Give One Child More?

December 23, 2010 | By | Comments (2)

I have three daughters. Every year in mid-December, I start agonizing. Have I spent more on gifts for one girl? Did I buy a lopsided number of presents? If so, do I need to buy one more for another daughter? And if the “one more” turns out to be something particularly "nice," could that set off a terrible chain reaction of more and more and more, as I attempt to ensure every daughter enjoys perfect, equal parity on Christmas morning?

These are irrational worries, by the way, because no one in my family has ever acted jealous or disappointed or anything close to that on Christmas. In fact, I keep a scrap of paper around here Tree 2 fix somewhere, dating from the mid 1990s, as evidence of sibling selflessness: “Dear Santa: Please bring me a doll and, for my older sister, two dolls. For my baby sister, is there something babies like? Love, Ella”

Yet, I obsess. I have impassioned discussions with each daughter about what she thinks her sisters would really like. Then I spend the third week in December hurriedly returning items that suddenly don’t seem like such good gifts —generally, what falls into this category are things I bought because I would like someone to give them to me—and replacing them (blessedly, almost everything is by now on sale, the one good byproduct of my frenzy).

And on Christmas morning? Everyone will be thrilled to unwrap presents, like every year. We will have sour cherry muffins for breakfast, like every year, and spend the afternoon playing Scrabble and Boggle, like every year. And I will wonder why I got so worked up. Like every year.

Is there a better way? Do you give each of your children the exact same number of gifts every year? Or is it OK if one child gets an extra?

(image courtesy of Quittner family archives)