Am I looking at this in the wrong way?


At Chrustmas time, our church puts a tree in the back with little paper ornaments for people to take. they have the name and age of a person wh comes from a poor family. They also have a small “wish list” for Christmas gifts for that person. I grabbed one for a teenager the other day because the item they wanted was from a store that is right next to where I work. They wanted a pair of jeans from this store. I went in there and the cheepest pair was over $40! On the little ornament, it also says; sox, belt and watch. I am thinking of getting the other stuff on the list because the first thing is way too expensive.

Am I being cheep here? we can bairly afford to do small gifts for the family and I just don’t feel right about spending $40-80 for a pair of over priced pants for a strainger.

so I have the wrong attitude about this? I feel really bad, but I don’t know what else to do about it.
any advice? should I just get the jeans since it was (at least I think) the thing the boy really wants the most?


You give according to your ability, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you can’t afford to give, give, give.

Children who make wishes on the “wish tree” are usually children who are in foster care or whose family qualifies for these special programs because of their poverty. Often children don’t have a good idea of what things cost, they just know their desires and what their peers have. So, I don’t believe a child asking for a $40 pair of jeans is being greedy or is expecting too much.

This may be the only gift that this child receives this Christmas. Can you shop at an outlet to find this brand at a discount? Can you get a different brand that is a little less but of good quality? Or, can you ask another family, or your bible study group, or whatever, to go in with you to get all the gifts on the list?

I think a child asking for socks, a belt, and jeans tells you how little he actually has. I would try very hard to fulfill his wish list. But, if you truly can’t do it yourself, then find people who are willing to go in with you to make it happen for this child or take a different child’s name off the tree whose gifts you feel more able to purchase.


Give what you can. Don’t stress about it. Give the other items if those are more affordable.

We, too, take ornaments off the giving tree at our church. I would not even consider buying a $40 gift. —KCT


I would agree with 1ke above that if the party requesting the gift is a child, s/he may be unaware of the relative cost of the item they want.

One way we tried to make charitable giving more affordable in our old parish was to “adopt a family.” Guilds, book clubs, neighborhoods, friends, etc… would join together and buy items for the families on the “giving tree” that any one person probably would not have purchased. By doing this we were able to make meaningful purchases like appliances, furniture, winter coats/boots etc. for the needy families. It also works for clothes, toys, electronics, etc…kids want. I would say no matter what your target purchase is, make sure you decide ahead of time what you are financially comfortable donating and stick to it.


I think it’s admirable that you want to help others,especially in this season of giving.
I did kind of the same thing several years ago with our parish “Giving Tree”. I picked a ticket and It was just gift cards to a grocery store. I thought $25 would be about right but I called the parish office just to make sure. I was soooo shocked when I was told the usual gift card was for at least $100 :eek: !!! I apologized and told them that unfortunately I was unable to give that much. The people in the office were just happy that I had called early enough so that they could make up the difference so the family would get their wish fulfilled. I’ve noticed that in the recent past, the tags would actually state the requested dollar amount (e.g.- $100 WalMart gift card) so maybe I wasn’t the only one who missed the boat. My advice is to call the parish office and see if they could tell you what to do. After all, they do want to make sure that reasonable requests are fulfilled,but not to the donor’s detriment. God bless you and wishing you a season of joy and peace!



I had the same problem (at probably the same parish–St. Joe’s?) a few years ago. Mine wanted trendy bicycle shorts going for about eighty bucks a pair, and from the size he wanted, he hadn’t missed many meals.

I called the office and they told me to pretty much ignore the brand being asked for, and give what I thought was right.

The way I figure it, St. Joe’s is a fairly well-to-do parish, with many parishioners that could have afforded such a thing without thinking twice, but the one who drew this boys request was me and not one of them.

I think that was God’s way of telling the kid “no.”


:stuck_out_tongue: SueKrum,
of course you’re not being unreasonable. I can just imagine that young girl being me a few years ago asking for those things; the initial desire for such things slowly dies down by us teens.
I think you should surprise the girl and give her something that she didn’t expect maybe a good Catholic book such as “Did Adam and Eve have Belly Buttons, and 199 other questions Catholic teens have” I think that’s the name of the book, and it’s by Matthew Pinto. I would have loved to get something like in place of my wanting something that will wear out and not last.

Don’t feel bad that you can’t give her what she wants, it’s the amount of love you put into whatever gift that makes it wonderful, including if you just choose to give a Christmas card.

You can always write in a card, “I was unable to get what you wanted, but I hope you like this gift from me to you, with much love.” If you want to give her something else.

If you want to make it funny, you can say: "Look, I couldn’t find the Genes you wanted in ----(store name goes here)---- they only had a bunch of blue pants, but I managed to get you something else, it has nothing to do with genes but I hope you like it. And when she opens the gift it can be the book mentioned above, or whatever you think will be good for her.



I don’t think you are being cheap, but you may have the wrong attitude.

  1. You picked the tag from the tree … you could have read it before you left. I think that once you pull it, you do have a certain obligation.

  2. The purpose of the giving tree is more for you, than for the person receiving the gifts. The idea is, during this busy materialistic society and time of year, can you selflessly think about another person. I believe it will be of benefit to you, to find a way to get those jeans. It will make you be creative, depend on others, admit your need, and go out of your way to meet the challenge.

Good luck with it! If you succeed in getting the jeans, it may actually be one of the Christmas’s you feel the most proud of.


I think it is a little like being asked for things by your own children. You may want to grant their every wish, but you have to stay within your means. Likewise, if you have the means but don’t think the request is appropriate, you are not unloving for treating a stranger’s child the same as your own.

It’s not a bad idea to call the parish office, though, and explain your dilemma, since they organized this method of running the gift tree. Since these terms were really told to you after you signed, if they don’t fit your budget or the call you have to give, you shouldn’t feel obliged to overspend.

But do call right away, so that an alternate donor might be found to take your place. It isn’t your place to decide that nobody should feel moved to spend that much, after all. The child was undoubtedly asked to put down what they wanted for Christmas, and children have this way of “dreaming big”, even the older ones. Very few are so mature as to scale back their requests in deference to the person who’d be paying for it. It is the organizers of the event who asked for the lists who have the worry of what to do with unrealistic or grandiose requests, not you.


actually, I did read tag. the store it is for is right next to where I work, so that’s why I picked it. I had NEVER been in the store before. it’s asurf/skate boarder’s store. geared for teenage boys. (My gift is for a 16-year-old boy) I do not drive, so I figured it would be easy. I have no teenage nephiews, so I honestly had NO idea how much these pants would cost.

and Onesimus, yes, it’s st. joe’s :slight_smile: do you still go there? Fr. Burney is so wonderful isn’t he?:thumbsup:

I kind of like the first poster’s idea about getting a fellow perishoner to split the cost with me. that may work out. I am just so frugal though, and I feel that they are charging too much for these clothes, but this store was meantoined by name on the card, so I don’t want to go somewhere else and have this young boy’s possably only gift be something that he didn’t want.

thanks for all your advice, I appriciate it.


I’m sorry to say, I have wondered about how desperately needy some of these people are since we have, several times, been asked if we want our children on various lists, trees, etc., for people to give us things for Christmas, or meals for Thanksgiving. Why? Because we have a bunch of kids, I guess. But I personally don’t feel we need someone else to give to us. In fact, some of the years we were offered, we were actually buying for others, and it made me wonder if we were actually giving to someone who had more than we did!


I have mixed feelings myself about the nature of the gifts these children receive. I have been told by some who work for Catholic Charities and other such organizations that some families are on multiple lists and get gifts from various organizations. From what I’ve seen at my own Church, these kids often get VERY nice gifts at Christmas. I think it’s partially because kids are not so conscious of prices. But it’s also because they’ve come to expect valuable gifts.

What I do know is that these are families who cannot afford to buy themselves the clothes, toys, furnishings, etc that are their neighbors, co-workers, and school mates have. Normally such families buy clothing at thrift stores and at garage sales. They often live in small homes, sometimes shared with other families.

The most important thing a sixteen year old boy wants is to fit in. Designer closthes, an iPod, a computer, a fancy cell phone… These are things that kids think they need to fit in. And when their equally poor friends get such gifts what else are they going to think?


You might also want to consider that $30 to $40 is about right for a pair of adult sized jeans outside of Kmart or Walmart.

Also consider what you are really giving. If this child’s family is truely in poverty, they likely don’t buy brand name things. For the child to be able to wear them is something more than materialistic.

Children (especially teens) don’t think like we do. I don’t believe in spoiling a child, but this would not be. Sometimes being able to wear the right jeans, shoes, or hat might make the difference in feeling accepted. Fitting in. Seems silly to us as adults, but think back to when you were a child. State of mind is not always so simple as to say “you don’t really NEED these material things.” Sometime $40 can make a real difference to someone. Just because it’s not something you would spend $40 on, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it.


I grew up not having much in way of name brands. I know exactly how it feels to not fit in with regards to clothes! However this past has made me the person I am today…non-materialistic!

That being said…I’m not quite sure what is wrong with buying jeans at Wal-Mart, KMart, Target? I would suggest you go look at the jeans at the other store and see if you can get something similar at a discount store. Then you can also get the socks and belt and he will have everything! These stores have major brands now, Lee, Levi’s etc…my own kids are taught it is not about the brands…if they want the brand names I pay the amount that is reasonable and they make up the difference! As a mother of teenage boys it’s not the tag it’s the “look” of the jeans!

My boys happen to get most of their jeans from thrift stores! (I would not suggest a thrift store item as a gift though:D ) They volunteered at a Catholic thrift store for service hours and then went shopping! They love jeans that are faded and “old looking” and they are amazed they can buy them for $5.00!


I have to agree with this. My parents were quite comfortable, financially, and they never would have bought me $40 jeans. I learned important things from that-- my self worth is NOT dependent on having the same clothes as everyone else. Clothes don’t change who I am inside. I am not a slave to the fashion designers who want my money.

I don’t buy myself or my children such expensive jeans. I can see giving a pair of decent, clean, new jeans to a child who has nothing but dirty, ragged, holes-in-the-knees. But no, I would not buy expensive designer jeans for anyone for Christmas.


My daughter got a pair of jeans from my parents for her birthday and she really likes them but they were on sale and when not on sale are really quite expensive, my daughter happened to see a pair she liked at J.C.Penney and she said "mom, these are so expensive, I didn’t know these jeans cost this much"
Alot of kids have no idea how much clothing costs and the teen that wrote this on the wish list probably did not know the cost and maybe they just put down some ideas not really knowing what they should ask for:confused:

I’m sure that they will be happy with whatever you get them, after all it is the thought that counts and your never to young or too old to appreciate that!:slight_smile:


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