Santa wants his generosity not to be unique, but contagious.
“You know, your grandmother got an orange for Christmas when she was a child.” explains my husband to our children.
“Woah…Oranges must have been really expensive back then.” replies Yasmine.
Mikella is speechless.
The magic of Christmas is something to behold, and being able to experience it through my children over the years has been an awesome privilege. The light in their eyes and the joyful energy in our cozy living room on Christmas morning is awe-inspiring.
With the holiday season upon us, there is no better time to be asking ourselves the question,
“Is this a need or a want?” As our children share with us their lists for Santa, my husband I look at one another as if to say, “When did our girls get such expensive taste?!”
There is a major flaw in the design of Christmas. Our children are well aware that money does not grow on trees, but at Christmas, gifts seem to appear magically underneath a tree so…it doesn’t count…right?
By no means are my children greedy, either. They absolutely grasp the beauty of giving to one another. With great joy they have already made some homemade gifts for us, and with great enthusiasm they have wrapped up the presents for their cousins (which are now just leaning against the wall in our living room since we have yet to put up the tree!)
“I just can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they open their presents!” exclaims Mikella.
What I am saying is that it’s time we start telling our children new stories to go hand in hand, and build upon, the existing stories of giving and receiving. Classic Christmas stories clearly imply that Santa and his Elves make all the toys, so children naturally want to know how money can be an issue.
What an interesting marketing trap we have been sucked into. The magic of Christmas is something many of us recall from our own childhood, and regardless of the degree of religious belief we feel towards the celebration, it’s hard to deny that the spirit of Christmas giving can absolutely lean on the edge of miraculous. In the heart of the darkest (and coldest) time of the year, people light up their homes and their hearts and find ways to enrich each other’s lives to a degree that we do not necessarily see year-round.
So how do we explain to our children that Santa cannot provide an indefinite amount of presents? How do we teach them the value of money when the images of mounds of gifts under massive Christmas trees abound? How do we explain that some families barely have enough money for food let alone presents?
“Why doesn’t Santa just make more gifts for them?” my kids want to know.
It has become clear to us that it is time we create some more realistic stories. Our girls have learned that back in the day when big box stores didn’t exist, children were thrilled to receive a single wooden toy horse or a hand-made doll for Christmas. We have told the story of how in this day and age, Santa cannot afford to make the toys without asking for money from the parents. They understand that there are some toys that Santa simply cannot make so the Elves need to purchase them, and that takes money. Our children know as well that Santa respects the values that we as parents hold in our home, so he will never bring a gift of which we do not approve.
But above all, they have learned that Santa counts on the generosity of humans to take care of one another by donating food and gifts to those who have less than us. Santa wants his generosity not to be unique, but contagious. His actions are meant to be an example for us to follow.
In fact, they have learned that Santa actually finds it surprising that children have come to expect so many presents at Christmas. We have had to point out to our sweet, innocent, little girls that stories are written by people, and just like the broken telephone game, some of the images and ideas told to them about Christmas are just not true…
Of course, this leads to the biggest question of all which has been coming up for the past few years,
“Is Santa really real?” they want to know.
As we gaze into our children’s eyes, the hope, the love, the desire to believe in the magic is very much alive.
“We absolutely believe in Santa. We see the magic he creates and he is always welcome in our home.” is our reply.
The bottom line is this. Most of us will agree that we do not want our children to be over-indulged or drowning in stuff. Yet, somehow, every year, they still seem receive more than was necessary. Several toys go unplayed with and are quickly forgotten about.
So as the Christmas lists emerge, the first step is obvious.
“Please go look through your rooms. Take out everything you no longer use (or never used for that matter) to give to others.” we instruct.
We get them to notice how full their rooms already are. We get them to question where they plan on putting their new acquisitions, should they receive them. And we have them actually, realistically imagine themselves using the items they have asked for in order to narrow down their list.
Ultimately, they get it. “We don’t need any of the things we’ve asked for. We just want them.” our girls inform us.
At least they’re honest.
That’s half the battle, I guess. This year, we have told the girls that Santa sees the abundance they already have and that he will likely focus mostly on offering them experiences instead of things. Gift certificates for the family to see a movie, to go mini-putting or rock-climbing are possible choices for this year. They cherish our family time, so I’m grateful to say that this idea appeals to them.
Wishing you all a lovely Christmas filled with the joy of experiencing the magic of Christmas.