Not all wishes can come true during the holiday season. Reddit parents united over some of the items on their kids' lists that won't make it under the tree this year.

Advertisement

The holidays are supposed to be full of joy. And if you're a parent, you know how special it can be to watch your young children's faces light up when they tear open a gift and see the item they wanted more than everything.

But for various reasons—from unrealistic asks to budgets—not every kid has all of their wishes come true during the holiday season. And it can bring on a heaping dose of parent guilt that's even worse than coal. One parent is having some trouble navigating gift giving and posted about it on Reddit. The comments showed solidarity (and humor).

"What is the 'yeah…that's not going to happen' item on your kid's Christmas list this year?" u/Twinsmamabnj posted in the Parenting subreddit. "My four-year-old wants the Hot Wheels Mario Kart Rainbow Road track, which has been sold out for weeks at Target, and I'm not sure they're ever getting more back in stock. My 7th grader wants a collectible Monster High doll that costs over $100."

Others chimed in. Some were gifts way above even Santa's paygrade.

An image of a child holding a dear Santa letter.
Credit: Getty Images.

"My son wrote 'Lions winning a game' on his list," said one top commenter. (The Detroit Lions are 0-9-1 heading into their Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears.)

"When mine was three, he asked for 'a real Ferrari, not a toy one,'" wrote another.

Good luck with those, kids.

But others had requests that were out of their parent's budgets.

"My daughter wants a ninja warrior-style playground…unfortunately, we don't have the space or the money right now," someone said.

"[My] oldest son wants the $300 Gremlins realistic prop puppet gremlin that he keeps seeing pop up on Wal-Mart ads. I'm like, 'Yeah! That is really cool, but…not for $300,'" another said.

And one Redditor offered a potential strategy that works for their family.

"We do the something you need, something you want, something you wear, and something you read. And they each get to get each other something small…it works out…not too much and all useful," the person shared.

There's a reoccurring theme in some of these responses, and that's that not every family can afford to buy lavish gifts. Of course, many young children think those gifts are coming from Santa. It begs the question: What message does it send if one kid goes to school in January bragging about an expensive gaming system and another child barely had any gifts—if any—under the tree?

In 2017, a social worker's Facebook post urging parents to stop telling their children their pricey gifts came from Santa went viral.

"I cannot stress this enough. STOP TELLING YOUR SANTA AGE KIDS THAT THEIR IPADS, AND IPHONES, AND 200 DOLLAR TOYS ARE FROM SANTA…'cause some families can't afford that," wrote the social worker, Megan Dunn. "Little kids wonder why they got socks or a coat or hand- me-down toys from Santa, and other kids got an iPad."

It's been reshared in the years since, sparking a debate each time. Some passionately agree while others have insisted they "shouldn't have to sacrifice their child's imagination for the less fortunate." And other commenters lament that we've gotten so wrapped up in gifts instead of the true spirit of the season.

Ultimately, different families are going to label gifts differently. But regardless of your stance on who gets credit for giving the more expensive gifts, parents can shift their kids' focus away from what's under the tree. Here are some expert-backed ways to instill the idea that it's better to give than to receive:

  • Random acts of kindness. Families may have an Advent calendar and give their children a small gift each day leading up to Christmas. Instead of—or in addition to—this tradition, parents can also ask their child to do something nice for someone else every day, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or writing a letter to a soldier.
  • Gratitude journal. Asking your child to draw or write about at least one thing they are thankful for can highlight what they do have, not what you (or Santa) will or won't be getting them this year.
  • Donate. Picking up extra food for a local food pantry or participating in a giving tree set up at a school or the mall are other ways to help community members this time of year. Older children can help brainstorm ways to give back and help pick out food or toys.

The holidays are supposed to be fun, but they can be stressful. Families have different resources, and it's important to some people to maintain specific traditions, like Santa. But there are ways to make the season a little brighter for everyone, especially if your family is fortunate to have everything they need (and want).