Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it. I go a little crazy at Christmas. The stockings. The stuffing. The crinkle of Christmas wrap in my hands. I love it all.
What I don’t love is the never-ending wish list I hear from my three little angels. Suddenly, the same kids who make me feel like I’m pulling teeth to pick out a birthday present start sounding like a walking, talking ad for Toys R Us. Through most of December it’s all about Santa and presents and what they’re going to get when they unwrap their presents Christmas Eve.
I try and teach my kids to be sweet and grateful throughout the year. To say thank-you and understand that no one actually HAS to buy them a present. I understand that they’re kids, and we as a culture stress the awesomeness of getting presents come Christmas. Which is the only reason I didn’t curl up in the corner and die of embarrassment when my four year old daughter innocently asked my aunt where her “big” present was when we went to their house for Christmas. I’m fighting an uphill battle, but it’s one I’m determined to win.
I want my kids to see what I see at Christmas. An entire season in which people, some for the first time all year, take the time to think of someone other than themselves. There’s a reason the Salvation Army is out collecting at Christmas. It’s when people are most likely to give, not because they know they should, but because it makes them feel good about themselves, the world and their place in it.
But how can I show my kids that when they’ve got Toys R Us ads cramming the awesomeness of the newest video game down their throats? Especially when (and I’m the first to admit it) we’ve spoiled them over the years, without giving much thought to what it would mean in the here and now?
I’m making a start (I hope) by stretching our wings to teach my kids charity at Christmas. For the past few years we’ve sponsored a little girl in Honduras through Children International, and adopted an angel from the angel tree. If I have cash, it goes into the Salvation Army basket. We’re cutting back on the amount of useless “stuff” we buy them each year, instead teaching the small joys of the season-making cookies, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, making paper chains instead of buying advent calendars to count down to Christmas.
I can’t help but feel like it’s not enough. How do you teach your kids to appreciate the true spirit of Christmas?