Christmas Gift Obsession

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by SRL, Dec 22, 2007.

  1. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    My difficult child has struggled with gift obsession since around age 5. When he was younger it was the source of such serious angst that I finally had him do the list and participate in the selection and shoppingprocess with me. On the very worst year he wrapped his own presents and stashed them safely away in his drawer. No anxious anticipation, no waiting, worked for him although it wasn't the traditional idea of gift giving.

    Over the years it's improved--still some stress near the holidays but not the 5 weeks of not being able to get to sleep kind of anxiety it once was. This year it kicked into gear on Thursday of the class party and hit pretty hard--moping, angst, anger at me for being so mean and not getting him presents and other unreasonable things. He started searching for his presents --not in the fun ha ha I'm going to find them but with anxious intensity. After a few days of that headache my other kids finally suggested hiding one of his gifts where he could find it so I "hid" one in a box in his closet which I was sure was the last place he'd think to look. Came home from errands this morning to a calmer, happier difficult child who told me he didn't need to look for his presents anymore. :faint:

    No telling what the elves must do next to survive the holidays... :elf:
  2. helpmehelphim

    helpmehelphim New Member

    I so hear you!!! The obsession is incredible. We've moved a few times and so we get gifts in the mail. This has proved so very difficult...any box that the mailman or UPS guy drops off is fodder for angst (I like the way you said "not in the fun ha ha I'm going to find them but with anxious intensity" because that's a good description here) . It's so difficult. I too, usually try and relieve the anxiety by either letting him see some or letting him wrap (it was nice to see someone else has done this). And it does help my son's like the not knowing is the problem...not so much the not having, Know what I mean??

    Christmas day tends to be hard for him too. He tries to get it figured out beforehand as far as procedure, leaving nothing up to chance and it just never seems to work out that way. It's difficult to factor in that "let down" after presents are open.

    All of that said, things are much "easier" than before. It seems the more he matures and develops (or the more he experiences the rituals) the easier the rituals become overall. I hope's hardest on him being so anxious about it all.
  3. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Gift obsession is HORRIBLE. My son's bd is in october, and from Sept on, he is a mess. Finally over the years, I have adapted things, so that he always knows what he is getting and when. For my difficult child I think it is partly his mania.......because often the gift obsession starts a large spiral of wanting, wanting, wanting - and going, going, going. He is old enough now, that I just get him a gift card, and he is happy as a clam...........but I hated those younger years. It made the holiday not worth celebrating - and even now - there is something just so empty and sad about the holidays and a difficult child. :frown:
  4. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member

    Christmas has always been a difficult time of year for Missy. We are surviving, but barely. It helped that I let them open a gift from my Aunt the other day when it came in the mail. I hide everything and they don't even see one gift, except for some for other relatives.

    Two more days....two more days.
  5. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    SRL, I had to chuckle over your post because my youngest has "shopping obsession" instead of "gift obsession." It's not just five weeks before the holidays -- it's every weekend of the year! This afternoon she turned to me and said, "I'm bored. I want to go shopping." You have to understand that we don't celebrate Christmas, we did Hanukkah in early December, and the last place I want to be the Saturday before Christmas is out shopping. I tried to explain my reasoning, but my lack of interest in fulfilling her shopping obsession led to a one-hour meltdown. I didn't give in, but when we discovered tonight that the dog had run out of food and I needed to make an emergency trip to Target, I took M along. I kept pointing out the heavy traffic, no parking spaces in the lot, the difficulty we had maneuvering our cart through the store, the long check-out lines, yada yada yada. I hope it sunk in. But I have a sneaking suspicion she's going to bring up shopping again tomorrow. Yikes!
  6. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    difficult child asks every year if he can open a gift early. Every year I say no. Every xmas eve, he begs again, every year I say no.
    He asks, I say no. End.
    He would be very upset this year. If he opened one early he would have none for xmas. As, and xbox360 it all he is getting.
    I had to put money away for over half a year for this, and we have no relatives that would send him gifts.

    Tonight he told me his friend was crying because his mother wouldn't let him open his xbox360 early. How does he know that is what he is getting? difficult child thinks he is getting it, but then I will say something and throw him a curve ball. Makes him wonder.

    Sure hope someday they will understand how difficult it is to fulfill their hopes of an expensive gift.
  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What a great suggestion to hide one where he could find it! Surprisingly my difficult child doesn't seem to get overly obsessed other than in telling us what he wants again, and again, and again and again. He usually is happy though with whatever he gets.
  8. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Not to hi-jack this thread, but all this talk about "obsessiveness" has me wondering about my husband and some obessions he has.

    I KNOW my mood disordered difficult child has obsessive moments, although they are MUCH better now that he's on Depakote...

    Is this a typical characteristic of mood disordered difficult child's? Sort of a perseveration on a particular idea?

    Is this what leads to addictive behavior in some of these kids?

    husband's FOO (family of origin) has a truckload of obsessive AND compulsive behaviors. Just learned that his Social Security-dependent parents BOUNCED CHECKS this month because his dad pulled out too much money in Vegas last month (all of which they LOST). :smile:

    As I sort out the issues in my difficult child's, it's amazing how much more I'm starting to understand their dad... and think someone should have had me interview his family BEFORE I said "yes!"
  9. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    My difficult child still obsesses but not to the level of your difficult child. I had to again remind him that we haven't let him down so far at Christmas time. Once he saw it and put it away he has relaxed.
    Now he is worried about the fact that we didn't buy the warrenty for it. :hammer:
    He is more annoying that obsessive but it's there. Good idea about allowing him to find it.
  10. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Here's an idea for those of you with little ones. A friend of mine uses a Twelve Days of Christmas theme and gets her children something little to open each day during the twelve days leading up to Christmas.

    They don't cost much ~ they can be things that you buy at the dollar store. Just a little something to open each day and take the focus off waiting.

    I used to buy each girl a video (can you tell how long ago that was?) and let them open it on Christmas Eve morning. That gave them something to watch which helped the time go by. I remember Christmas Eve day as being the longest day of my life when I was a child.

    by the way, even my easy child keeps asking if she can "open just one thing early." I have to keep reminding her that she is an adult now and has to wait just like the rest of us. LOL.


  11. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I don't have a problem with opening a gift or two early. Packages coming in the mail from out of town family always work well for that.

    One thing that I started doing when the obsession was the worst was to set up the kitchen table as a Christmas craft center. this year I just pulled the stuff out a few days ago but I put out ornaments to paint, sculpee, etc--anything that can occupy the hands and minds of kids wandering through the kitchen.

    I'm going to have the hugest collection of kid made ornaments in town but it's soothed the savage beast many a time.
  12. My difficult child has been bugging me every day for the last week to open an early present. I had only purchased 2 gifts for each him and his sister because the main gift was $150-$200 (a PSP with-game for him and a MP3 player for his sister)each. I explained to him no because he only had 2 presents to begin with. Well, I wrapped the presents this morning and stuck them under the tree - bad mistake, I know. Anyway, my daughter called me an hour or so after I got to work this morning and asked me if I had told her brother that he could open one. I told her no - she then proceeded to tell me that he was sitting on the couch with his PSP opened in his lap. I was so upset! I never thought he would actually open a present under the tree. I don't suppose he thought ahead to what would he say to me when I got home and found he had opened it! I told him then that he can't have it today and had my daughter lock it up in her room. One of my friends here at work said that she wouldn't let him have it at all or let him wait until next month (his birthday is in January). Another friend said to just put it back under the tree exactly like it is tomorrow morning, letting him have it, but he is the one who will only have the 1 present to open now on Christmas morning and that she went through something similar with her son at about the same age.

    I know that he doesn't always think rational right now, I know he was upset when he got up this morning. He came downstairs when he woke up crying about missing his dad. I understand but that doesn't mean it didn't upset me.
  13. lisae

    lisae New Member

    My difficult child's issue is his dad never being there for him - sure enough, husband had to work 12/23 - 12/25 and his only day off, the Saturday before, they called him in! So when husband left on Christmas morning, difficult child age 15 ran into his room and had a melt-down about his brother getting one more gift than he did! So much like a 6 yr old still - but when I talked to psychiatrist's NP the next day, she said it was his anxiety coming out and she raised his Seroquel level to give him some relief.

    Holidays are so difficult. butterflydreams, my kids opened the UPS packages when they arrived during the day when I was at work, so they had no big surprises for Christmas proper. I just ended up giving them their main video game present early. I've decided in the long run it doesn't matter, Higher Power willing, there will be other holidays to come that turn out better!
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911

    What about - dollar store presents - an ADVENT of gifts so to speak?

    On each day on a special HIM ONLY calendar that starts on December 1. Each toy would come with a note that you only gave to him # 1-25 and would be hidden with clues written out, somewhere in the house. One only until Christmas Day.

    Would that help?