Managing expectations

Christmas village 2013.

Christmas village 2013.

I'm wrapping up Christmas-prep 2013 over here. Because of our plans, I need Christmas ready-to-go a few days earlier than usual. Fear not, I've got things in hand nicely, which is to say I'm woefully behind on my work-work. My play-work? It's going great-guns.

I happened to catch wind the other day that Parker was expecting an iPhone for Christmas. Even though I'd told him repeatedly he was not getting an iPhone for Christmas, he'd somehow dreamed up that my denials were an elaborate ruse to distract him from the big surprise -- AN IPHONE.

But guess what? Parker is not getting an iPhone. So . . . that's kind of a sticky situation.

On the one hand I don't want him to be disappointed. On the other hand, I'm not getting him an iPhone. (My hands often are uncooperative.) My reticence does not lie in the money or his lack of responsibility or anything like that. I just don't want my twelve-year-old to have unfettered access to the Internet. I know lots of your kids probably have iPhones, and I'm completely nonjudgmental on the subject -- I just don't feel it's right for us. When he's 20 I'm sure I'll change my mind.

On top of this, we are traveling over Christmas. Because our kids are older, we are trying (keyword trying) to transition from giving toys and things in favor of providing family experiences. Theoretically the kids are on board with this, but they are also accustomed to a big show on Christmas morn. So, even though we've warned them they are each just receiving a few gifts this year, I'm worried they will ultimately be disappointed.

So. How do you manage Christmas expectations?

No, really, tell me.

For Parker, I actually sat him down and dispelled the iPhone myth. I explained our current family policy and reiterated that there would be plenty of time for iPhones later. I then asked him if there was anything really special he was still hoping for. We talked about a few options, and he seemed pretty happy with the discussion.

As for the Christmas morning predicament, I figure that one is just going to have to work itself out on its own. I'm crossing my fingers that the location and activities will create their own air of excitement, and if they don't, if there is momentary disappointment or sadness, I'm resolved to let them work through that as well. And then, I'm going to tell them to BUCK UP and BE GRATEFUL. 

But generally, they are appreciative, kind kids, so I'm thinking everything will work out just fine.

Any words of wisdom on managing expectations? Anyone?