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Dealing with the pressures of the season

The desire for and the possession of new toys that Christmas brings also present an opportunity for parents to teach say local families. - photo illustration Andrew Leong
The desire for and the possession of new toys that Christmas brings also present an opportunity for parents to teach say local families.
— image credit: photo illustration Andrew Leong

Maple Bay resident Ronnie Auton remembers a Christmas when she fell victim to the hype for 'the' toy of the year.

She shares it as a cautionary tale to other parents who might find themselves feeling pressure to buy the favourite toy.

"I remember when my daughter was five and she wanted this toy. To this day I know that toy. I travelled the country to get it. It was a walking dog and it barks. She still has it."

Auton, who works as a recruitment specialist in the retail industry, was living in the UK at that time and said she notices a big difference between Christmas marketing in Canada and England. 

"In England, I was totally pressured (to purchase everything) from food to clothes. It might be different in Vancouver but I don't feel we're as pressured here in the Cowichan Valley. I don't feel as stressed as I used to be or under pressure to have the perfect Christmas with the perfect gift." 

Auton said feels less pressure to shop at Christmas now as compared with past Christmases in England. She believes this is because Christmas advertising in Canada starts later in the year than in the UK, both in stores and on television.

"Christmas starts in September in England. The marketing restrictions may be different here. My mom was on the phone earlier talking about the amount of Christmas advertising that started weeks and weeks ago in mid September. I only noticed it yesterday at Thrifty's.

Auton said she and her daughter were talking about that walking dog toy recently and her daughter revealed she only wanted it because her friend wanted it too.

"Her friend didn't get it because no one could get this dog. I travelled the country. I drove like mad to the other side of Manchester to buy it. Anyone in my way, I was going to kill them. Apart from Christmas day I don't think she played with that toy again."

Angela Etherington's challenge at Christmas is the demand of technology.

Her kids believe Santa Claus will make their dreams come true but their dreams have gone from the simple pleasures of a preschooler to the devices they see their peers receiving.

"If they ever watched TV, it was Treehouse so there were no commercials. And they weren't exposed to what other kids have. Now, their wants are higher especially with my son who is 8."

Etherington said because her son's peers are receiving devices like iPod touch, iPad, gaming systems from Santa, it's raising the bar on gift expectations. To manage these expectations, Ehterington explains that Santa respects the choices their family makes.

"I tell them Santa believes in what our family's values are and we don't feel owning those technologies are important."

Etherington recognizes these tools are part of everyday life. She has an iPad for work, and she and her husband have cellphones. She lets the kids use her iPad but she monitors how much they use it. She hopes that by only having one device in the house the kids will learn self-regulation and how to share.

"I tell my son he doesn't need his own iPad because I have one and the two kids share it. The fact they have to share, or use it together, instead of sitting on their own, I think that's important."

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