The other day, I pulled a couple of requests off the Angel Tree at the little guy’s preschool. I figured we could take a picturesque excursion to the toy aisle at Target and pick out the perfect toys as a family, complete with to-go cups of hot chocolate. So when I read pants and sweaters as the desired gifts, my self-serving charitable Starbucks-sponsored thoughts were replaced with an ache in my stomach as I thought of the number children bracing for another winter without enough pants or sweaters – so few that their Angel Tree wish bypassed toys for simple articles of clothing. A Christmas of necessities.
Our children (nor ourselves) do not want for necessities. In fact, Clay and I have joked in the past that we weren’t allowed to give necessities as birthday and Christmas gifts to each other. Which, quite frankly, is a disgusting sentiment and I am embarrassed to have thought that way at one time. As I look around our too big house that is filled with too many things, I can’t help but feel that I am doing my children a disservice. They will be receiving even more toys this holiday season, toys that they may want but toys they certainly don’t need.
And while I don’t want to rob our children of the excitement associated with receiving toys from Santa and extended family on Christmas morning, it is important to me that Christmas morning is not a free-for-all. I have no desire to see my children unwrap a gift, glance at it, and then toss it aside in favor of another wrapped gift. I grew up in a family that took turns opening gifts on Christmas morning – of all my family Christmas traditions, this one is dearest to my heart. I absolutely loved seeing a gift that I painstakingly picked-out or made be opened by my parents and siblings. And I hope my children will experience the same joy as they grow older.
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” – How The Grinch Stole Christmas
This year we vow to do things a little different. Less of a spotlight on what they want for Christmas, fewer toys, and more focus on non-commercialilzed aspects of the holiday. And do so while keeping in mind that pants and sweaters can indeed be the most cherished gifts of all.