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So many blogs and articles this time of year are about how you need to teach your children that Christmas is not about treats, Santa or gifts under the tree. You hear about parents who cancel Christmas, or even my own parents tell us that my kids are spoiled and that when I was a kid we never had a big Christmas. Well, I say I respect your decision, please don’t judge me for mine.
See, I’m on the other side of this debate. Christmas is about more than “giving” or “the birth of Christ”. Christmas is about memories. It’s about experiences and joy that I, as a parent, can bring my child. Christmas is about the anticipation of a 6 year old, who is sitting on the edge of their seat dying to know what is in that big wrapped present under the tree with the red shiny bow and a nametag glaring his name. (Do you remember that feeling when you were a child?) Christmas is about lying awake in bed trying so hard to go to sleep so Santa will come, and waking up early to wake up mom and dad so you can go downstairs and see what was brought.
Christmas to me is the excitement of Christmas morning and spending the entire day (weeks actually) with my children playing and enjoying their new gifts. My kids know that mom and dad won’t be too busy to play. We won’t have lunches to make, homework to do, yard work to finish. We aren’t busy with folding laundry or making dinner. It’s all for the joy that they feel that one day out of the year that the suspense and uncertainty comes to an end and the giggles and fun is released. It’s the memories, the smiles and the joy that as a parent I can shower my children with gifts and fun.
Christmas is about giving, and we give to everyone. My children experience this as we give to the shelter, toys for tots and adopt kids off the angel tree. Our simple explanation is that not all mommy’s and daddy’s have the money and we want other kids to experience the joy that they get to experience on Christmas morning. We discuss how we would feel if we didn’t have Christmas and what we can do to help others. They understand that we are fortunate because daddy is able to provide us a good Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had rough Christmas years. But even when times were tough my children still were showered with gifts and I don’t feel guilty about that. We’ve struggled with money just like anyone else but we plan ahead, we look for deals and we have even resorted to using credit cards for years we didn’t have the cash. We’re the parents you see who eat Thanksgiving early and head out to go shopping. My kids get nothing for Christmas that is not on sale or with a coupon. I’m able to research and look for the best prices and that’s a blessing because I would never pay $70 for a new video game (Instead, we paid $37 because we went out on Thanksgiving night).
Christmas is not about religion in our family. See, I don’t feel like they need one specific day to celebrate the birth of Christ. My kids do know how Christmas originated, but to us Christmas is OUR holiday. It is about our family, being together and making memories. Like Thanksgiving, my house holidays are about making memories. It is not about the food you eat or the must have family tradition of stuffing your face until you cannot move. That is a lot different than when I was a child, holidays were about eating and food.
It’s my opinion, no matter what visions you have for your children to take away from a holiday, the fact is my parents failed at teaching us Christmas was not about gifts. Even though as kids my parents did not have much money and tried to train us that Christmas was not about what you get, our society made it clear that it was about what was under the tree. As an adult, I don’t remember being upset that I did not have more than a few presents or that I rarely got what I had on my Christmas list. I remember the excitement and joy of Christmas morning and opening presents, the trouble I had going to sleep on Christmas Eve. I specifically remember playing with my toys for weeks, however; I didn’t have my mom and dad on the floor with me. They were always too busy making a big feast for our extended family. I want my kids to remember me, I want to remember their laughs and giggles as they discover the neat little secret door on their new dollhouse or the hysteria when my son drives his new car off the table and it crashes down, flipping and turning and “doing a cool trick”. I do not want to miss that. THAT is what Christmas is to our family, and the gifts we buy just help make the whole process more accessible for all of us.
Before you jump to conclusions about how my children are spoiled like every other person has tried to say with their blog posts, my kids are not spoiled. We only buy second hand clothes 90% of the year. Not because we have no choice, but because I want my children to learn that something used is just as good as spending hard earned money on something new. I want them to know that we should donate things we can no longer use for someone who can, and we should buy things that someone else donated so that it doesn’t go to the landfill when it is perfectly useable. Every six months or so my children sell their toys at Just Between Friends to earn money to spend on “new to them” stuff.
My kids come with me to donate food to the shelter, they help me with the clothing drive for the kids who need warm clothes for winter. They know that not everyone has money and that we are fortunate, for now. They may get spoiled on this one day of the year but my children learn about money and that everything is not free. They know that their daddy works very hard to provide for us and they know if they want something, they will work hard too. My kids do work around the house when they need a dollar for the school store or want to buy a book from the Scholastic flyer. If they want the new game on their tablet all their friends have, they work for it. I tell them no often, when they are begging for a candy bar at the store or when they cry for days about a $20 night light they see on T.V. that mommy won’t let them have. My kids have never had McDonalds except when we have gone in to get a happy meal toy they saw on a commercial. When we are hungry and pass a fast food joint, 95% of the time we keep driving. We come home and eat what we already have. We only go out to eat when we have planned it. The kids, despite my daughter’s best efforts, do not eat school lunch even when it is pizza day and “everyone else gets it”. We set boundaries, and we set them often.
So with that being said, please don’t judge me that we get our kids a big Christmas and we try to buy them everything they ask for on their list. Don’t judge me when my kid gets an expensive video game that he has asked for since March (Remember, I paid half the price of the game). Don’t judge me when my daughters go to school excited they got what they asked for. You see, all year long I listen to how “so and so” has a phone or how “so and so” plays his Xbox every day and it’s not fair that we don’t play on the weekdays in our house. I also listen to how “Sally” has the best mom in the world because Sally gets to do WHATEVER she wants.
Well, this is my glory. This is my one day out of the year that *I* am the best mom ever so stop trying to ruin it by making me look bad that I shower my precious children with gifts and joy on Christmas morning. This is the one day out of the year that I can spend the entire day in my PJs playing on the floor with my kids and have NO care in the world what other people have to say or think when I spent our hard earned money to spoil my children. They are my children, who are growing up way too fast. They are my children who one day won’t believe in the magic of Santa and flying reindeer. They are also my children who even if it is a brief time before that transformer toy they had to have is forgotten in the bottom of the toybox that brief time of smiles, laughter and joy was worth every penny.
I’m a mom just like you, I do my best for what I feel is best for my family. I won’t judge you if you decide your kids only need three presents this year. I won’t judge you if you tell your children Santa is not real. I won’t judge you for the decisions you make for your family, but please do not judge me for the decisions I make for mine. No matter how you celebrate Christmas this year, I hope it is filled with love and laughter. I hope you take a moment to notice the giggles and joy that will often be lost way too soon.
The mom that will be on the floor playing Monster High meets Transformers.