Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kids and Christmas

As we get peppered with the Christmas merchandise in the stores, we don't need that reminder, but we do need to think about Christmas for the kids.
I know it is difficult right now with all the financial uncertainty. Added to that, it is always a difficult time since it seems to hi-lite any dysfunction in the family unit, and what family unit does not have some dysfunction!

The stores drown us in musak and commercialism and if we are not aware, we can lose sight of what actually makes this Christmas magic. We are in danger of forgetting that we are the ones who have to provide it and what we teach them now will be what they remember and pass on when they are in charge of making Christmas.

I know that you who are parents and grand-parents, it can be a very emotionally and financially draining time. It does not have to be. We just need to remember back to the magic of our childhood Christmases.

Each autumn, I end up writing an article about kids and Christmas. If you would like, I can post them here.

To you who are parenting and dealing with all the difficulties that entails, I pray for a blessed Christmas filled with joy and awe.


The Missing Magic of Christmas (Written in 2006)

I am not hearing kids talking about making garlands for the tree, going to get the tree, making gifts, making decorations, any of those things that made the Christmas Season magical. I am not hearing about families looking forward to missing members being home for Christmas. Even for those who are not practicing Christians, Christmas is a season for celebrating the love of family and gratitude for all we have, of sharing with those less fortunate, remembering those who are far away and can not be with us at this magical season.

It is hard to believe that December is not yet here, but Christmas wish lists are everywhere. I am not sure when and how it became so commercialized, but I really dislike seeing the "Gimme" mentality at every turn. It is another symptom of the magic going out of the lives of children.

The big news items over the weekend are about Sunday Shopping, just in case 6 other days a week are not enough to buy all the stuff little Johnny wants for Christmas. Pressure is put on parents to get the latest and greatest toys, brand name clothing, and any other thing that a person can write on a wish list. If these items are not under the tree on Christmas morning, you are a bad parent, incapable of satisfying the needs of your children. If your children do not go to school with the right manufacturers label all over their clothing and book bags, your parenting skills are again brought into question. The kids who don't have these things are teased and put down by the "have" kids.

It is so prevalent that even charity has to come in extra large. Our local mall has a "Giving Tree" each year, where Social Services writes the first name of a child and his or her Christmas Wish gift on a card. You can take a card, buy the gift and give it to Social Services to wrap and give the needy child for Christmas. After reading through all the cards on the tree, I had to walk away unable to afford any of the gifts even for my own family. All requests came with brand names, all the brand names were at the top of the price field. It seems that if children do not go to school wearing the right clothes, carrying the right accessories, they are shunned by the ones who have it all.

My wish is the same as it is every year. To be surrounded by family, to have everyone home, safe and well. Only twice has this not happened. The worst Christmas ever for me was when my daughter was stuck in Montreal, the second worst, she was working and could not come home. We got up Boxing Day morning, packed up Christmas and took it to her. So it was the Worst Christmas Day but the best Boxing Day.

My daughter also feels that the most important thing is to be together and she looks forward to all the good food, good company and the love. It would not matter to her if there was nothing under the tree...and in the past, there have been years like that. The first Christmas we spent together was one of those, We gave my DH a pair of slippers, one from me and one from my daughter. It was so full of love that when we remember it, it is the love and caring that stand out, not the being financially so badly bent.

My DH is also happy when we can all be together, and looks forward to Christmas Brunch, which he is in total charge of. We always cook from scratch, but over the Holidays, we make an extra effort to make those things that are family favorites, require a lot of prep. and do not get made throughout the year. Extended family by choice also drop in over the holidays.

We have always made it a point of getting the larger necessities for Christmas plus a few small gifts. We always put together a large care package for our daughter, with food staples, personal care luxuries, and new and different foods to try. She says it is the most exciting gift, going through it on Christmas Morning. There is also usually someone who has no where else to go, who shares our Christmas with us.

Anything above and beyond these basics is great if it happens, but not at all necessary, or even missed if it does not.

No comments: