Our kids are lucky enough to celebrate Chanukah and Christmas, which means, a WHOLE lotta gifts come their way. While I love giving gifts, I’ve noticed the more I give the kids – well, the 3.5-year-old specifically, the more he kind of gets “used to” it and the less enjoyable it becomes. How is the message of, “during the holidays, you get more and and more and more” a good one? But, does focusing on the message too much kind of ruin the magical spirit of Xmas? I never got Xmas as a kid, so I don’t really know the feeling of waking up to a million gifts, an overwhelming excitement permeating your entire being for a whole day (or even weeks leading up to it). I always wanted that feeling, and I want to give it to my kids, but I also don’t want the spoiled-ness that comes along with it. With all the suffering in the world, something just feels “ick” about piling more and more and more stuff into our childrens laps. Even worse, my son seems almost immune to the excitement now – expecting gifts all the time and barely enjoying each one as he anticipates the next.
One of my thoughts was to take some focus off the whole superhero thing (his obsession) and give him something we could DO together. I put together a big new art box with paper, paint, markers, etc. – all new supplies bundled into a great big box and presented it on the last night of Chanukah. I’m ashamed to admit that tears sprung to my son’s eyes. “But this isn’t what I thought you were going to give me, Mommy.” I resisted the urge to take away every single one of his previous gifts, I was so disgusted, and realized how much we had fed into this problem -constantly talking about Santa and elves and lists (I refuse to go to the “if you’re good you’ll get x,y,z and if you’re bad you won’t place…that’s too much), but we had fed into it nonetheless.
I told him that art was a special gift all its own because he could make ANYTHING with it. And we sat down and painted together. He painted Darth Vader (“well, it’s not exactly Darth Vader but it FEELS like him”), and I felt like I’d won a tiny victory.
We still have Xmas coming and I’m happy he is going to be peppered with fun, he deserves it, but next year I’d like to be a lot more cognizant of the message we send. We also did some gift donating, of course, but I don’t think he quite gets it and to be honest, for a literal kid who has some anxiety, the talk of, “some kids aren’t lucky enough to get gifts, sometimes people don’t have enough food” did more harm than good.
So…I have no answers, and I’m not going to offer the cliched “make it more about experiences than gifts” routine, because I also know the magic of Xmas is something that means a lot to my husband, its something he works towards all year. But we definitely need to strike a balance. I don’t want the holiday season to turn into an icky feeling of guilt for me OR a greedy/non-appreciative attitude for the kids.