‘Tis better to give than to receive

Unless you’re talking about kids and buying presents for their siblings, maybe.

My children—like most children, I’d imagine—are a bit excited about the impending holidays. This manifests primarily in their running around the house as if jet-propelled, shrieking about this or that thing which they simply must have. If I manage to divert them from present talk, then they want to know if we can track Santa’s progress again this year and can we make those candy cane cookies like we did before and what sort of pie will we have and will there be a wishbone for them to break?

I got the brilliant idea, this year, to get them thinking about giving in a different way. This year—for the first time—my children have carte blanche to purchase anything at all for each other, without my intervention or veto power. The only catch is that they have to spend their own money.

The children, they do not know what to do with themselves, faced with this directive. They have been floundering, coming up with wonderful ideas that are either out of reach financially (“Yes, honey, I agree that your brother would probably really love an Xbox, but on your $1.75 a week that’s just not going to work”) or very affordable but not quite in the spirit I’d hoped to foster (“Well, yes, technically I guess you could buy a bag of carrots…”).

While trying to navigate this new territory, I found myself perusing this study about how birth order influences gift-giving.

Norwegian behavioural biologists at the University of Oslo (UiO) have found that that eldest siblings use more money on each gift than their younger siblings. The research also noted that those born in the middle give the least to the family.

Well, thank goodness I’ve only got two kids (and no middle child). Given some of the ideas these two have come up with for each other, I shudder to think what suggestions a stingy middle child might have.

I’ve put a deadline of this weekend on the shopping, so one way or another I’ll be analyzing my children’s generosity by Sunday night. But if you find yourself with some spare time and a bit of curiosity, read the rest of the article about that study. It’s pretty interesting.

P.S. No one in the study gave the gift of produce. I’ll be pointing that out to my own offspring.

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