Maybe you didn’t notice, or maybe you did, either way I’ll make it clear right now – I’ve caught Christmas fever!
This is new to me. I’ve never been the type to be so gung-ho about Christmas. The kind who is not only talking (or singing) Christmas but is constantly thinking about it too! Everything is Christmas related – what we eat for dinner, the books we read, the movie we watched tonight (The Grinch!), what we talk about, etc., etc. I was practically skipping through the aisle at the grocery store, smile plastered on my face, humming along to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” – although it doesn’t look anything like Christmas here thanks to all the rain we’ve been getting!
Our tree is up, our supper table discussions seem to revolve around what we’re giving who for Christmas, the oven has been on 350 constantly baking some form of Christmas goodies, and the stereo in the kitchen has been playing Christmas CD’s on repeat!
With Christmas comes more than baking & song singing. For myself, as a child, Christmas was all about getting. I made lists of items I wanted out of the Sears Wish Book, I spent the entire month of December contemplating what it was that I wanted to get. I didn’t come from an extremely well-off family so I never got everything on my list but there was always a few of my requests under the tree for me.
I wasn’t just one spoiled child with a case of entitlement syndrome, this was just the focus in my family. This is also the focus I see in so many other families. Parents frantically scrambling to try to complete the list provided by their youngster. The sad thing is that this is likely the most common, shared focus throughout society. In my opinion it is completely out of hand. Christmas has begun being that stressful time of year where you’ve got to get something for everyone. I’ve decided scrap this ridiculous notion and start creating a different focus for Christmas.
It started a few years ago when both my kids, too young to even be able to write out their Christmas list, were completely bombarded with gifts for Christmas. Toys and books, dolls, racecars, and craft supplies, the list goes on and on. There were too many to count and far too many for the kids to even connect what came from who. There were no expectations from adult gift-givers for a thank you. The kids weren’t expected to show their gratitude, they were encouraged to dig into the next wrapped surprise. To be quite frank, it was sickening.
In addition to this revelation, perhaps it was my financial situation at the time that contributed to my gift giving change of heart. I was simply not able to buy gifts for my kids, family members, friends, neighbours, the mail-man, etc. Instead I bought my kids a few things trying to get them something they actually needed, and no matter what, I’ve always gotten them a new book or two.
Now I should clarify, I do completely agree that Christmas is the time of giving but where my issues lie is in what we’re giving. When did it become a necessity to give something that has been purchased? When did it become expected that each kid get something off the shelves at Wal-Mart? I’m all for giving but I like to think outside the box about what to give.
Without being able to buy extravagant gifts I had to be creative. I found that the things I did do for people was a lot more sentimental and thoughtful. I couldn’t just please them with something expensive but instead had to think about what they actually needed, wanted, or could use. In most cases it ended up being a homebaked gift – cookies, cakes, chocolate bark, or other Christmas goodies. It is so much more meaningful than a box of store-bought chocolates when you can bake something you know is someone’s absolute favourite treat!
Now another thing I wonder is if Christmas is a time of giving then why are kids constantly questioned about what they would like to get? A conversation with my sister-in-law a few weeks ago exposed me to a side of Christmas I can proudly say is not present in my household. She asked me what my kids had on their “list.” My response shocked her. I filled her in on what each of my kids was planning of making to give to someone else. Kate is working on knitting hats for her step-mom and half brother; Sawyer made bracelets for his Dad and Uncles; Both were working on paintings for their Nana & Papa….I didn’t get to finish reciting their “list” because she interrupted me explaining that that is “not the type of list a kid makes at Christams!” Really? I disagree! She then went on to explain how exhausted she was from trying to find everything on their lists. I should clarify that her kids are 7, 5, and 3! At these ages they are being programmed to see Christmas as a time of getting. Perhaps they’re planning their giving as well but it clearly isn’t the focus in their household.
It’s a wonderful thing, being a parent. One of the perks is that you get to decide how to raise your kids. What to teach them, the values you instil within them, the holiday traditions you pass along to them, it’s all a choice a parent gets to make. To each their own!
I won’t say that my way is any better than another’s way but my way is definitely what is best for us, in my house. And I’ll stick to my tradition by keeping the focus on what we are making for others and how we can enhance their Christmas season. As for gifts, I’ll continue making whatever I can to give to our family, friends, and neighbours. For then kids, they’ll be getting gifts that follow these guidelines:
‘Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read’