There’s Nothing Wrong With “One And Done”

“One And Done”, for those of you who don’t know, is the new catch phrase for couples deciding to have only one child and that’s it, that’s all.

I can certainly understand what is behind it for a lot of young people. These days, the cost of raising a child to the age of 17 is estimated to be anywhere from $230,000 to $360,000. I hope that’s not in U.S. dollars.

I know of one young family who were spending more than $200 a month just on specialized baby formula.

Add to that the cost of living – rent, mortgage, gas, groceries – all of these have skyrocketed in the last year or two. My husband and I’ve had one of our adult children move back home to save money, as I’m sure many people of our age have.

Young people who have families or friends to take them in are lucky. Their only other choice these days seems to be living in a tent.

Some couples are deciding not to have any children at all, and I don’t blame them either. It’s hard to be positive about the future with climate change and wars and…well, let’s not go down that rabbit hole.

Oddly enough, there has been a little bit of backlash to this idea of One And Done. Some say it’s not a complete family with only one child. It’s not healthy. There are still stereotypes about only children being spoiled or lonely or having “only child syndrome”.

What’s that? you might ask. “Only Child Syndrome” means being unable to share, becoming annoying, entitled, weird or peculiar. I was pretty sure someone made that up, but there was apparently some research done in 1896 (!) that came to that conclusion. When I find the study, I’ll let you know.

I have experienced first had what it’s like to be an only child. And yes, over the years I’ve been told I must be spoiled or lonely, or both. But maybe I was lucky, or maybe it didn’t matter, because I had a great childhood.

It was pretty rare growing up in the 60’s to be an only child. Contraception was in its infancy (pun intended) and most families had at least two children. Everyone I knew had a brother or sister or both. My husband came from a family of six kids.

But my parents were a little different from most of the other parents I saw. They were in their late 30’s when I was born. My mother was 37, and that was pretty unusual for a first time Mom back then. When I started school, most of the other Moms I saw were in their mid-to-late 20s.

My Dad never called it One And Done; he referred to it as “Started Late and Finished Early.”

There were great advantages to not having any brothers and sisters. Christmas presents were ALL FOR ME. I almost always had my parents’ complete attention. I didn’t have to share a bedroom or wait in line for the bathroom.

The only thing I can think of that I didn’t like about being an only child was being all alone in the back seat of the car. I kid you not (sorry, another pun).

Brothers and sisters? I had plenty of friends – neighbourhood friends, school friends and even my cousins. And sometimes we fought like siblings, but we also had great adventures together. As far as I was concerned, these were my brothers and sisters. And many of us still keep in touch.

In conclusion I would just like to say that I have met a few people who grew up with siblings and who definitely acted entitled or weird, or who were certainly lonely. So there goes that old research.

If you want one and then want to be done, all the power to you.

That’s one lucky kid!


The Best Christmas Gift I Can’t Recall

You often see local papers or other media asking the public to submit their stories about Christmas. It could be about your favourite moment or the best gift you received, or anything like that.

Well, the best Christmas gift I ever got is one I can’t even remember.

Let me explain.

I might have been 5 or 6 years old when this happened. Because my family was originally from Denmark, we always celebrated our Christmas and opened our presents on Christmas Eve, as is part of the Scandinavian tradition.

All of my neighbourhood friends were clearly envious of me getting my gifts a day early. But it was actually tortuous for me too.

That’s because I had to wait ALL THROUGH Christmas Eve dinner before opening my gifts. I could barely eat sometimes, never mind think about dessert. I would shuffle impatiently in my chair all through the meal. All I could think about were those gifts sitting there under the tree, waiting for me.

On this particular Christmas Eve we were finally finished the meal, and my mother was clearing the plates and dishes from the table. My Dad went to put the garbage outside at the back of the house, and I just sat there, beside myself with excitement.

Please! Please! I want to open them NOW!!

Suddenly, I heard something. Was it a voice? Yes, a man’s voice. It was coming from outside the front door. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” the man said. “Merry Christmas!”

I couldn’t believe my ears! Santa was here. HERE! At MY HOUSE!!

I yelled to my mother and ran down the stairs to the front entrance. “It’s Santa! Santa’s here!!” I screamed.

When I flung the front door open and raced out, I didn’t see anyone. I peered into the darkness, straining, hoping to see the sleigh, the reindeer. Anything. The street was still. The sky was silent.

I ran out to the lawn and looked up at the roof of our house. Nothing. My mother came and stood at the doorway watching me, smiling.

And that’s when I saw the gift sitting on the sidewalk leading up to the front door. Santa left me a present! I looked around again, but no sign of the red suit. Never mind. He left me a present!

I grabbed the gift and went inside, breathlessly gushing about Santa actually coming to MY HOUSE and leaving me a present. We went inside and upstairs to the living room.

When I finally saw my Dad, I excitedly told him what had happened. I couldn’t believe that my Dad missed it all.

Because he was putting the garbage out.

To this day, I can’t for the life of me remember what the gift was that Santa brought me. But that didn’t really matter.


Too Much Christmas Stuff

I recently attended a memorial service for an old neighbour in the area where I grew up. At the luncheon afterwards, one of her daughters, a good friend, said to me “I saw the Barbie movie recently, and it reminded me of you!”

Well, of course, I blushed at the thought that Barbie brought me to her mind. Was it the blonde hair? My bubbly personality? Something I was wearing?

But then she said “When we were kids, I loved coming over to your house because you always had YOUR OWN Barbie!”

I had to think about that for a minute. And then I realized that what she meant was that, because I was an only child, I never had to share anything with anybody else in my house. I had my own Barbie. My own everything.

She came from a family of four kids, three of them girls. And when I started to think about it, everyone in my neighbourhood back then had a sibling, or several. I was the exception. They all decided that I was just a spoiled brat.

Most importantly to them, I always got ALL of the Christmas presents. As a kid, Christmas is all about the presents.

Even when my parents were struggling financially, I still got lots of presents. One Christmas, my Dad only got a bag of peanuts and my mother a cheap bottle of perfume. The rest of the gifts were for me.

Zip ahead sixty years or so, and I seriously couldn’t care if I ever got a Christmas present again. I mean it.

For years, my own little family have been making long Christmas lists of things we want, and every Christmas our tree is barely visible behind a sea of gifts. Not only that, but I’ve almost always been the one with the biggest pile. Maybe I’m easy to buy for. Or I’m cute, like Barbie.

It’s just that I don’t really need anything anymore.

In fact both my husband and I would be better off getting rid of things rather than accumulating more of them. We’ve got a huge house full of stuff. Stuff we don’t need, stuff we’ll never use, or have otherwise completely forgotten about.

I remember back a number of years when all of the complaints were that Christmas was becoming too commercialized. I guess my generation was the beginning of all of that.

Now it is SO crazy that the big box stores starting bringing out all of the Christmas stuff in the summertime. It’s commercial to the point of being absurd.

Are people really thinking about Christmas decorations in July? I don’t think so. It’s only when Costco starts with the Yuletide paraphernalia that Christmas comes to mind. And we all say under our breath “Christmas stuff ALREADY??”

I understand that some businesses, especially smaller, local ones, rely on Christmas to make most of their annual income. But Walmart doesn’t. I mean, come on!

I don’t want to get preachy about it. Who needs that? Buy all the stuff you want. And sure, there are plenty of homemade options or clever ideas for unique Christmas gifts. I’m all for that.

But me, I’m only really interested in get togethers and little traditions like making gingerbread, watching White Christmas, and finding a tree to decorate. And every year I make at least one trip downtown before Christmas just to take in the atmosphere and walk through all the stores.

One of my friends says that all she asks of her daughters is to have one whole day with each of them alone. All to herself. I like that.

And of course, I’ll buy my family whatever Christmas stuff they want. But this year, my list will only be three items long. One for each of them to buy me. Because I know they’ll want to buy me SOMETHING.

But just so you know — I already have my own Barbie.