Four and no more – well, except for the grands

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor


You may have heard about the Rule of Thirds. It's something photographers use to create striking pictures.

You imagine the subject divided into thirds – horizontally and vertically – nine separate pieces before snapping the picture. 

It's supposed to create tension, energy and interest in the composition rather than simply centering the subject.

I actually take time and do this when I'm traveling – especially for landscape work. Of course if I'm out shooting a building or a group shot for the paper, I'm just lucky to get the subject centered, period.

But now have you heard about the Rule of Four?

Somehow that one escaped me, until about six weeks ago as I was trolling Facebook late one night.

It was a simple meme (that's a photo with some clever words that's shared via the Internet just in case you aren't tech savvy) that said Four Gift Rule for My Kids.

And what it depicted got me to do some serious thinking.

I've never been extravagant at Christmas. I've never been financially able of buying everything I wanted to give to people.

Even when my children were, well, children, I shopped sales, spent the same amount of money on all three of them and always managed to give them a nice holiday.

They understood at a young age that Christmas is not about them – that's what their birthdays are for.

I've held fast to that over the years, but nonetheless find myself exasperated every Christmas searching for the right gift.

Sometimes were easier than others. Like the year Spencer wanted an iPad. He got it but because of the expense of it, that's all he got.

Now the family is growing and instead of three children, I now have seven with spouses and grandchildren  – oh, and another one due in July. Yes, daughter, Allison and her husband, Jeremy are expecting thanks to the fertility specialist in Atlanta.

And as the family grows, and inflation increases, my disposable Christmas income is reduced.

And that's why this meme spoke to me.

It read: Something they want. Something they need. Something to wear. Something to read.

Four gifts. Four inexpensive gifts. I could do this I vowed and it would perhaps simplify my Christmas season.

I set out –not on Black Friday or Cyber Monday – but the Sunday in between with my list, my laptop and my credit card and the Christmas shopping began.

I did one quick run through the mall last week, one more round on the laptop and now, one week before Christmas not only is the shopping done, the packages are wrapped and I'm not freaking out about what to buy anyone.

Well, except the special adults in my life who get one gift from me –like my husband. 

The hardest part about the Rule of Four is I am still in the honeymoon stage of grandparenthood and I cannot resist a Carter's store or a Discovery Zone catalog. 

I've decided for now the Rule of Four cannot apply to grandchildren – especially if it means picking up a knitted cap or a noise maker to annoy the parents.

And with a new grandchild on the way, I think this "breaking the rule" may last for a while.

I hope their parents understand why Andi and Grant rack up while they're stuck with four gifts.

And if they don't? Oh, well. Maybe next year the Rule of Four will be reduced to Rule of One while the grandchildren reap the bounty.


Contact Carolyn Ten Broeck at editor@willistonpioneer.com.