Last weekend, I ventured out to buy groceries and was overwhelmed (yet again) by the blaring Christmas music and the over abundance of decorations. There was this one mother with two children walking through the toy aisle. She was having her children make a “list”. The list was for the wonderful “Santa Claus”. Her daughter was popping down the aisle squealing “I want this, I want that, I want it all”. Her son was moving slowly through the many action figures and touching each item that could possibly be a good toy. The mother was quietly checking prices and wondering “how can I do this?”
The Christmas season has always been a time to spend together. The holiday was the time for a big meal, yummy cookies/cakes, and the smell of cinnamon cascading through the house. It was a time of gift giving and watching the joy on others faces as they got “exactly” what they wanted. For the children, it was a holiday of working hard to be good so you are on the “nice” list. It was a holiday of cheer and excitement as they opened their gifts and squealed at the reality that they got “exactly what they wanted.”
This year is different. This year that mother in the store watching the prices and thinking “how can I afford this?” is me. My children will get less then “exactly what they wanted.” The list will be large and the reality of what can be provided will be less.
There will not be a Playstation3, iPod, Barbie dream house, or Baby Alive. They didn’t make the cut. This year, I am a single mother.
As I sat the other night reviewing their list, I found myself wishing that all parents would cut back this year. I thought of what will happen when my children only see a few gifts. Will they think they were “naughty?” Will they wonder why others received more? Will they forget the purpose of Christmas and become engulfed in the feeling of being “less worthy?”
I struggled with ways to make the money stretch or ways to get more. I even thought that maybe I could blame the economy and the expense of supplies to make to the toys. I thought myself to sleep…
The next day at church, we were reviewing the agenda for the week. On the list was a request for family sponsorship for those in “need.” I read the wish list and felt tears come to my eyes.
They were young children with no requests for an iPod, game system or crazy baby doll. They had simple requests for a coat, shoes, and hygiene products. I felt a moment of guilt that I even felt that I had shorted my children. I was reminded that life could be more challenging. I realized that I was lucky.
Last night, I continued working the list. I began marking off those items that were out of the price range. I began adding others… I added one item to both of their lists for a “child in need.” I have decided that I would share my addition with the children and remind them of what the season is about. I want them to give up some “wants” on their list in hopes that Santa will be able to provide for those that are struggling with “needs.” After all, isn’t the holiday about giving?
So in Keeping it REAL, we should all check our lists. This is a great time to teach our children what really puts them on the “nice” list. We should teach them about giving and the joy that can come from providing something so basic as a coat or a pair of shoes. We should teach them to give and in return they will receive the most amazing gift..a gift felt deep within..a gift of feeling that you did the right thing at the right time for the right REASON…..