“I’m embarrassed about how many gifts my child got for Christmas.”

The parent’s explanation was that they don’t want the child to look down on the less privileged.

I didn’t know how to tell her that her sentiments, while coming from very good intentions, are misguided and downright insulting.

If anyone thinks anything resulting from privilege can be reduced or undone by simulating poverty, that couldn’t be more misguided. If one child has no relatives, no parents, or no money and as a result receives very few Christmas presents, Christmas presents is one of many ways this child’s life is impacted. It’s akin to offering to kill one ant when a house is infested by carpenter ants.


So I told them, “You know my parents didn’t have money, and my Santa gifts sucked. Yes, it sucks to be disadvantaged in many ways and then now Santa too. But they’ll be ok.”

What I didn’t say was this:
After saying all that, you’re still giving your child a gift?  Nothing you would buy for your child will be shitty enough to make it even with a poor kid. Thinking of a resolution to a problem and doing it half way is entirely self-serving. It doesn’t help the other kid unless you do it all the way (e.g. equivalent gift), but doing it half way makes you feel good like you’re doing something.

Why don’t you teach your child to not bully others who got different gifts?



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