We lie to kids all the time. We should stop. I often talk to Chris about all the Hallmark holidays that have gotten out of hand. Maybe I am a buzz kill, but we are basically telling kids lies and then later expect them to trust us. My parents did it and I turned out fine (at least I think I did), but I think I might just stop the craziness when I have kids. I thought Stefanie Wilder-Taylor said it just right in “Gummi Bears Should Not be Organic:”
“Early on their life is filled with fantasies they believe to be true, such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy (notice I capitalized Tooth Fairy—because, like God, the Tooth Fairy is still very much a real and venerable life force in my house.) And who puts those fantasies in their head? We do. So when your child tries to convince you that the reason they took all the forks out of the kitchen is because they needed them to help run the jelly bean factory in their closet, how can we be mad when we’ve convinced them that a fat guy with a sack of toys is going to be sliding down their chimney?” page 92-93
She is right. We lie and then we expect them not to lie to us. Besides I think most kids do not even know the true meaning of Christmas. They think of it as a plethora of gifts, a tree, photos with Santa, and whatever other crazy traditions we have started. What if instead we all went back to the true meaning of Christmas? Giving to those in need and being together. Sadly, because of all the crazy hubbub of Christmas, I have become a Grinch. I do not want to buy you a gift just to get you a gift, and I do not want you to do the same. I do not need a thing.
It is funny — I decided to Google “the true meaning of Christmas” and I got such an array of answers about Jesus, God, and lots of other religious babble. One site did give me an answer I liked — that the true meaning of Christmas is Love. Now that is something I can wrap my arms around. Can we show our kids that? Instead of telling them about a fat, jolly Santa, the North Pole, and lots and lots of presents, why not show them how to give to kids in their community that do not have as much? Maybe sharing a coat with someone who does not have one? Or selecting toys to give to children that do not have any. What then are you teaching your kids? Love, gratitude, sharing, and appreciation for all they have each day?
I do not want to raise kids that feel they are just going to get presents upon presents under the Christmas tree, and so many they cannot even begin to appreciate them. That is commercialism and consumerism at its best. I would rather dote on them throughout the year, rather than swoop in on one day out of the year. Besides it feels like a lot of pressure, and is it really worth it? Call me a Grinch, but I do not want to start that tradition.
Chris and I had a solo Christmas. More like it was another day. I was so sick we did not even follow through on the food we were going to make. Instead we watched a few movies and I napped, oh and we slept until 11 am. (What is not to love about that?) We were thinking maybe we would just have today be Christmas Day. I think I am feeling better. It is hard to say as there have been many moments over the last few days where I have felt better, and then whoosh I get hit hard again. No one should ever have to feel this way!
In any case, I was thinking about simplicity. We had a simple Christmas which I love. I absorbed many Christmas trees, gifts being opened, and gatherings via Facebook these past few days, and there are two things I want to mention: opening presents and how to share with others on Christmas.
Opening presents. As a kid our tradition was to take turns selecting a present under the tree for someone else in the family, and when it was someone’s turn everyone gave that person their attention. They could take as long (within reason) as they wanted to open that gift, share gratitude to the giver, and if it were not filled with a million pieces they might even get to put it together quickly. After opening up their present, they cleaned up the mess of paper and ribbons and put it in the trash bag available. You would have your own turn when someone else gave you a gift to open, but you could not hand a gift to yourself. That was our tradition. It has stuck with me. There was a patience, appreciation, and enjoyment with watching each person feel loved and grateful for their gift. Why am I telling you this? Facebook photos yesterday showed crazy amounts of toys, with kids surrounded by them and all the paper and the mess. It makes it hard for me to think that they appreciated them, were grateful to the giver (if they knew who they came from), and I wonder if they cleaned up the mess. Maybe I am horrible, but I think my childhood tradition is one I would like to pass to many.
Which leads me to: share with others on Christmas. Another find on Facebook was a mention of a tradition I do want to start when I have kids that are old enough. This specific family writes a note to Santa on Christmas Eve, leaves a plate of cookies and milk, and each child selects a toy of their own (that they like or no longer play with) and leaves it for Santa to take to a kid somewhere in the world that may not have many toys. A brilliant idea! It is a great way for kids to think about others that do not have what they have and it is a way to have children part with unneeded toys (especially when they are going to be getting more the next morning).
The simplicity of appreciating the gifts we open. The simplicity of sharing with others on Christmas.