How we value Christmas
Food for thought before you go shopping this Christmas
It’s no secret that here at The Mum Source we love Christmas, and well… over the years we’ve let ourselves be carried away by the celebrations, the shopping and the eating. But truth be told, we have made a few mistakes along the way and spent money in toys and other trinkets that our children have never even touched.
But who can say no to those googly eyes that look adoringly at a teddy, train set, doll house or bicycle. Who can say no to their first ‘Will Santa bring me a new train?’ Well, not us, of course.
First, we still remember that toy we really longed for and our parents never left under the tree. Second, we feel a bit guilty for going to work, giving them fish fingers for dinner once or twice a week… you know the drill, so we get them a few extra pressies that arrive courtesy of Santa to make up for the moments we have missed. Third, we just want to make sure they have everything, absolutely everything they want—after all that is why we work all day.
But that’s what we want, not what they need—or, ironically, even what they want.
My son was 9 months old when Santa made his first appearance at our house. My little man got a red miniature car, clothes, a toy remote control, mega blocks and plush teddies. I have to admit he was more excited about the boxes and wrapping paper than the toys. He’s never touched the little car, the remote control broke down two months later, and the clothes don’t fit anymore. Almost two years later he’s finally decided that building with those mega blocks isn’t such a bad idea.
For his second Christmas he got a kitchen and a book. He has a love-hate relationship with the kitchen, but he absolutely loves the book, Cityblock, which teaches kids about the things and people they will encounter in cities. We now know it by heart and we read it together almost every night. My daughter, who was 3 months old last Christmas, got a doll, books and a musical garden. The doll is on her top five of toys she loves to chew; the musical garden went back to its box.
I have to confess that my children have no recollection of their two previous Christmases. Whenever I ask them if they remember Santa they stare at me with their big round eyes and say nothing.
It’s only this year that my son has begun to understand that Santa brings presents, that we have to write him a letter, and that December is a very special month full of chocolate treats and shiny decorations. My daughter, who is 1, is totally oblivious. If this year her father and I just leave a notebook and textas for her under the Christmas tree she’ll squeal with delight. She likes to draw and loves to play with paper, so why get her that gorgeous $100 doll house I saw a few days ago? Simple: because it’s similar to the one my parents never bought for me.
Children love playing but not necessarily with new toys; paper, boxes, crayons, hats, old clothes, dirt, water, and YOU. In fact, the only thing they want, the one thing they will remember about Christmas is the time you spent bonding with them. They will remember how much they wanted Santa to arrive. They will remember the cakes, the songs, and all the special traditions you create for them, such as building a gingerbread house together.
So this year this is the plan: we’ll buy four presents. One item of clothing, one book, one small toy and one big splurge—one thing that we know they really want. In our case we’ll get a red bicycle for our son and a tricycle for our daughter.
We want to make sure they understand that Christmas is not only about presents but about family and spending time together. As the years go by our 4-gift list might change, but at the core there is one thing that will never change: the love we try to put into everything we do for them the other 364 days of the year.
And yes, we’ll still eat all the chocolate and share it with them because it’s Christmas and calories don’t count.