A few nights ago, my husband and I were putting our children’s Christmas gifts into separate piles, trying to make sure each of them had the same number of items. When we’d finished dividing up the gifts, I looked at the three or four items each child had and declared it “a pretty good load.”
My husband, however, saw things differently. He remembered receiving at least six gifts every year as a child, and the idea of giving our kids only three or four was “pathetic.”
“They’ll feel cheated,” he said. “I’m pretty sure they got more last year.”
“I just don’t want our kids to get into the Harry Potter mindset,” I told him.
His eyebrows drew together. “Harry Potter mindset?”
“You know, like that character who was Harry’s cousin? How he’d count his presents on every birthday to make sure he had at least as many as the year before.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t want our kids to be spoiled, okay? Because even though we receive gifts at Christmas. It isn’t REALLY about the gifts.”
I thought back on my most memorable Christmases and realized they had little to do with getting loot, and more to do with celebrating the love we felt toward each other. Laughing together. Talking together. Singing Christmas songs. Celebrating the birth of Jesus. Not that you need to believe in Jesus to celebrate Christmas! But I’d rather my kids focus on loving others than on how many toys they receive.
That’s what I want my kids to see this holiday season. Love for their families, love for their friends, love for those they haven’t met who may not have the advantages we do. Yes, I love the holidays! I like presents, and I want my kids to be happy when they awake on Christmas morning. But I’d much rather they come away from this holiday season feeling warm, loved, and like they’ve helped another person. So we’re wrapping a present for the Angel Tree this week and delivering gifts to some needy families. Not to say we’re neglecting our own Christmas, but my kids will play a huge part in this. They helped pick out the gift. They’ll participate in wrapping it. And when they’re delivered this Saturday, they’ll ride in the car and help unload. It won’t just be about receiving loot. Not this year. They’ll learn that they have the power to do a good in the this world, no matter how small they may feel.
Spread the joy. Spread the love.