One Christmas came when I definitely knew I had to reel my kids in and teach them what’s most important about the spirit of the holiday season. I’m not trying to sound like the Grinch here and – I totally “get” that the excitement about Santa coming and all the presents, but a few years ago I reached my boiling point, the point where it became so obvious that what should be the real spirit of the holiday had taken a back seat to my kids worrying only about how many presents they were going to get. That’s the point I said, “enough is enough.”
I’m not sure what tipped me off the most, my greedy bunch of kids bombarding me with expensive gift requests: the “the princess” stating she wanted a new MacBook Pro and Channel purse, the “little one” stating he wanted the latest version of the iPod and newest version of Xbox, “ the alpha” stating he wanted and NFL jersey and box seats for the Super bowl and lastly the “quiet one” stating he” just wanted cold hard cash.”
I think it started last year, when one of them asked for Nike Lebron sneakers, I know this doesn’t seem like an uncommon thing to ask for, but this particular style (the ones he HAD to have) were discontinued. Not only did they cost an exorbitant amount of money, there was only one store in the entire country left that sold them – a store 500 miles away. Being the sucker that I am, I asked my husband if he would get them; my husband being the even bigger sucker he is, agreed. He drove to the small sporting goods store located in one of the worst neighborhoods in South East D.C. When he arrived, he saw that the store had an armed guard and that the windows were barred up. Fearing for his life and not wanting to disappoint his son, he went and bought the sneakers. He was lucky came out alive.
The light bulb went on. My kids were overindulged and I was mostly to blame. It was also the issue of them having a true understanding of what Christmas is really about. This became predominantly clear when my then 6 -year-old complimented my mother on the gold cross she wears around her neck; he told her that he really liked her “t” necklace.
Call it Catholic guilt, but that was an embarrassing revelation – a reflection of my parenting skills and a clear indication that I had not taught my child anything about Christ or the real meaning of Christmas.
With that series of wake up calls, I sat my kids down (after church), and told them we needed to re-evaluate our priorities. I told them I understood their wanting gifts, but that simply we couldn’t afford to buy that many expensive things for five kids. “Then just have Santa get it,” they said. Clearly, they were trying to one up me. My retort: Even if we could afford it, we shouldn’t expect so much and instead we needed to focus on the true spirit of the holiday season which is about kindness, generosity, giving and love. They said they understood. This year the princess is asking for a down payment on a car , the youngest one is asking for a trip to Cincinnati to see the Bengals, the alpha is asking for the latest Lebron sneaker and season tickets to the Celtics, and the quiet one is asking for “cold hard cash.”
I don’t think they understood.