I started writing this post in my head yesterday after having half a box of Milk Duds for breakfast. I was two candy canes and a cup of chocolate syrup away from being Buddy the Elf’s newest friend when I saw a thing on Facebook that sent that sugar surging through my system.
The picture, shared by a radio station, was from someone’s Facebook post where she chastised other parents planning to give their children big ticket items from Santa because that might hurt the feelings of those children who did not get big ticket items from Santa. There’s some good will in there somewhere, I think, but that’s…illogical. I’ll get to it in a minute.
Pondering that picture sparked a few more things I think are dumb.
Cancelling Christmas Because Your Kids Aren’t Grateful
I listened to an entire radio segment on this one. If you have reached the point of cancelling Christmas because your kids aren’t grateful, grab the nearest newspaper, roll it up, and whack yourself on the head with it. You haven’t been teaching gratefulness throughout the year and now you’re taking out what is your frustration with yourself on your children.
I’m not saying they don’t deserve to learn a lesson here, but I’m saying that cancelling Christmas probably isn’t going to teach them said lesson.
Being grateful, spreading good will and kindness, helping others, those are things we should be doing all year long. Whenever opportunities to do so present themselves, help. Have those conversations with your children about the many blessings in their life and show gratitude in your own actions all throughout the year.
Don’t wait until Christmas to teach being thankful for what you have because others don’t have the same things. It’s too late. The proverbial boat has sailed.
Chastising Other Parents Who “Lie To Their Children”
While this is not true for every parent who disagrees with playing up the Santa myth, as there are plenty of y’all who are out there like “meh, just don’t want to do it,” and also those who are still unsure how it’ll all play out since their kids are pre-Santa age, there’s also a heaping dose of superiority that smacks out of some peoples’ mouths every time they utter the phrase “well, WE don’t BELIEVE in lying to OUR children” or any iterations thereof.
Show me a single parent who, when the first Christmas twinkles begin to appear, jumps for joy shouting “OH! HOORAY! IT’S TIME TO LIE TO THE CHILDREN!” Some parents just don’t see Santa as lying to their children. Some parents just want to celebrate the magic of Santa Claus with their kids because it’s fun or they have fond childhood memories of the things their parents did, or it’s really just as simple as they do what they want.
You don’t “lie to your children.” Okay, well, good…for you! Because they are your children. And these children are my children and there is room enough in the world for all of our celebrations, mythical fat man and his flying reindeer or no.
Why is Santa Claus and what others do with him in their own homes such a big deal to so many people? When in the history of Santa Claus have we ever cared this much. (Newsflash: It’s all social media’s fault.)
Complaining About the Over-Commercialization of the Holiday
Y’all, it’s no secret that Christmas (and every other holiday, essential and non) has grown increasingly more and more commercial. Blame advertising. Blame marketing. Blame movies. Blame society. We are a consumer culture. That’s not changing any time soon. But it’s sort of pointless to do all of your complaining about this at Christmas. (If you’re the kind of rallies against this all year, I salute you.)
Why? Because for some families, Christmas is the only time they really buy gifts for their kids. Don’t make them feel bad about that in your efforts to do what you deem to be good.
Some families buy gifts for their kids throughout the year, and they aren’t called gifts. They’re called “I want this”-es. Kid sees a toy, wants it, parent says “okay.” (I think probably these children and families would overlap with the families from #1 in a Venn diagram.)
Other families say “not right now” or “we’ll save up for it.” And they do. Then Christmas morning rolls around and all the things they’ve been saving up for appear under the tree, from Santa or not from Santa—no judging—and others look at that sort of haul and click their tongues in disgust and go “Ugh. Consumerist culture is SO. GREEDY.” (To which I go, “ugh, two lumps of coal for you.”)
Which brings me back to the original meme:
Telling Other Parents They’re Doing Celebrating Wrong
That’s what struck me about the image I saw on Facebook yesterday. It said, essentially, if you give your kid a big present from Santa instead of from yourself, another kid who didn’t get a big gift from Santa, or didn’t get a gift from Santa at all, will internalize that and wonder what’s so wrong with them that Santa didn’t stop there. Or that Santa isn’t an equal opportunity gift giver and it’s not fair and society will crumble.
I have to call bullshit on that one. They WILL do that (probably) if YOU are talking about it.
I get the sentiment. I do. But how about we teach our kids not to be bragging braggers instead of telling other people not to give their kids big presents. Or small presents. Or whatever.
If you’re teaching thankfulness and gratefulness and kindness and any other -nesses except jerkiness, cool your shorts. You’re doing your job and your kid is going to be fine. You have no idea what those other parents might have done to afford that present, how long they saved, whether it was purchased with a bonus or by a grandparent, or maybe even donated by a support organization, and frankly, it’s not your business.
(Yes, kids whose families need help from support organizations for Christmas are allowed to ask for the latest gaming system. No, poverty should not relegate them to socks and underwear so you can feel good about doing something for someone once a year.)
Stop caring so much what other people think and your kids will follow suit, which is really the bottom line in all of this.
Do what works for your family. Stop passing judgment on others. Take some of the time you spend judging the choices of other people and go sing some carols at a hospital or bake a cake for the neighbor or curl up on the couch and watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the 400th time.
Peace on Earth, guys.
Now can someone pass me a candy cane? My sugar-to-blood ratio is getting out of whack.