My son, who’s four, came home from Junior Kindergarten last Thursday afternoon with a backpack full of loot bags. Halloween loot bags. Halloween loot bags from friends that he has known for eight weeks that were passed out to the entire 18-kid class, labelled ‘To My Friend’, and stuffed with Halloween pencils and erasers, balloons, glow-in-the-dark sticks, and spider rings. I received a note from his teacher the week prior, reminding parents that if they wanted to “send something in for Halloween” it had to be non-food-related due to allergy concerns. I chose not to send anything in, and here’s why:
When did this never-ending cycle of gift-giving start? There’s the obvious biggies- Christmas and birthdays. But when did it become commonplace to shower our children with ‘stuff’ every month of the year? There’s back-to-school gifts in September, Halloween gifts in October, and New Year’s gifts in January. Don’t forget the Valentine’s hoop-la in February, Dr. Seuss Day in March, and Easter baskets in April. Oh, and Thanksgiving and Canada Day and the first day of Spring. What about June? Ah yes, the “passing present” when they finish school. Yes, you read that right: a passing present- that is, buying them a present for “passing” to the next grade level.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am all about celebrations. I am the first one to give a hug, a congratulatory phone call, or mail a card when a big event happens. I put out lit-up pumpkin lights for Halloween, I hang Christmas lights in November, and I serve my kids red and pink food all day on Valentine’s Day. But I’m not about stuff. Gifts, gifts, and more gifts are not my style.
So, back to the note from my son’s teacher. Halloween is already a big event at school when you’re in Junior Kindergarten, and my son was beyond excited that he got to wear his costume to school. They also had a dance-a-thon in the gym, a movie in the classroom, and a costume parade through the halls. It was a big deal. It IS a big deal. But I didn’t buy him, or his classmates, a gift. Because the joy we had leading up to Halloween, the laughs we had trick-or-treating, and the memories we made on our neighbourhood streets were worth far more than a $5 loot bag could hold.
Call me a killjoy, call me cheap, call me a poor sport. I will call me low-key. I’m for jeans and a ponytail over dress pants and up-dos. I’m for experiences over things. I’m for earning over deserving. I’m for opportunities over entitlement.