I was talking in the school yard to a couple of other mums about Christmas and presents and so on the other day and I realised how lucky I am. I have two wonderfully uncommercial children. They do not whine for DSs or a Nintendo Wii, they are not addicted to Lego, and they think Justin Bieber is called Justin Beaver. This is pretty much entirely accidental but as a post-rationalisation I think I know how we did it.
We don't own a television. We used to in the UK but as most of you probably know there are no commercials on BBC television and so when the children watched TV back then, they were not bombarded with Barbie et al. Now we don't have a television at all. This isn't some desperate attempt to hold back the tides of plastic junk - it's just we had got out of the habit of watching in the UK so couldn't see the point of buying something we wouldn't use here.
We also don't go shopping much. I do. We have to eat after all. And dress ourselves. But I pretty much do it all myself either online or on my own when everyone else is at work or school. I don't do this because I don't want the girls subjected to all the inducements in supermarkets and department stores. I just can't be bothered with shopping. The accumulation of stuff is vastly over-rated. Bargains are only bargains if you actually needed the thing in the first place.
Blimey, I sound puritanical (and possibly a bit smug). And I honestly am not. Show me a good restaurant and I will splurge on foie gras. And I will splurge (and am) on a cabin in Tahoe for a week at Christmas, or a day out in Monterey as we did a couple of weeks ago. But new shoes? No thank you. I have shoes.
So there you go. My two top tips for bringing up uncommercial children. No TV and almost no shopping. Or perhaps I just got lucky.