I don’t come from a family with a lot of money–not many people do these days–but at Christmas my parents always made sure we had a good holiday. In the words of a certain Disney froggy princess, “We may not have had what we wanted, but we had what we needed.” Now a bit older, my parents are grandparents, and they’ve worked hard all their lives to get to a point where they can afford wants. Year after year I watch the grandchildren of my family receive gifts, more gifts than they need, and have become so accustom to getting these extravagant gifts that they don’t even appreciate them anymore. One year one of my nephews actually cried because his cousin got more gifts than him, despite having gotten enough gifts to spend a month of my pay. It disgusts me, but honestly it’s not entirely their fault. You’ll have bratty ungrateful kids at Christmas, if you allow your kids to be bratty and ungrateful, and I will not. This is how…
Giving due credit.
The first step to raising kids that understand the true meaning of the holidays is to give credit where credit is due. At Christmas, we have never told our children an imaginary fat man brought them gifts because that apparently is what fat men who live on the North Pole do. (Being from Alaska, I beg to differ.) They are told, for instance, “This gift is from dad, because he loves you,” instead. All gifts come from somewhere, give credit where credit is due and give that shiny package a human face.
Next, anytime our kids stop appreciating things that they have, we take them away. If it’s really so horrible to get a new toy and not two new toys, then they don’t need that new toy. Even as toddlers they have come to understand that you should be thankful for what you get or you may not get anything.
Stay true yourself.
If you expect your children to stick true to the real purpose of Christmas, then you too should not forget what the holidays are about–no, its not presents or even pie. Every year we know our kids will get gifts from others, so we fill their stalkings and get them one nice gift we know they’ll really, really enjoy, and maybe a few cheap this and that’s. We don’t spend hundreds of dollars. We don’t use layaway or max our credit cards. We gift in moderation so that our children appreciate what they get and not how much they get.
With all the consumerism, shiny lights, and cool toys, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is really just Yule with a longer name. All you really need is a warm fire, a filling feast, and a full heart, and that is an opinion I’d like to gift to future generations. Happy holidays.