It was 1987 and I had erected a plan for the last eleven months that was culminating into a night of utter disappointment. You see I had pushed my mental fortitude past their six year old limits and forced myself to think about Christmas in January and every month after until I had assured my conscience I deserved a visit from Santa Clause. I had no living room fireplace or personal evidence of a man in a red suit but neither would deter my small mind from the inevitable wealth of toys should I maintain my behavior through December. Outside the shadows of black Friday, I would maintain an all-year-round vigilant fight against mischief……and win!
Well I won’t go into my disappointment in the Hope Unseen but as you can imagine I felt my efforts were in complete and utter vain. I was good for nothing! Well sorta. Being good is its own reward, it alleviates the burden of things that come from devious behavior. One such burden I imagined was not getting what I wanted on Christmas Day which is exactly what happened to me anyway. In hindsight exactly how mad could I be? I was walking around with a contrived sense of virtue for 11 months thinking it deserved reward; it didn’t.
Now as a father that entire concoction of fake Christmas cheer could resurface with my own children I have been lucky so far but the holidays always allows for a unique lens of parenthood reflection; how much do I spoil my kids? If you were like me and grew up with less then this is a question you may or may not grapple with especially during Christmas. One of the benefits of becoming a parent is being able to correct “mistakes” from your childhood. The rub is now deciding if growing up with less was a “mistake”? While it felt bad in elementary school as an adult I can appreciate the contrast I have in my life now from knowing what it is like not being able to purchase what I want. This is something I don’t want to rob my children of but I also don’t want to be a scrooge for no other reason than because I can. I decided that it doesn’t make sense to deny your children because their grandparents stiffed you [they probably had no choice]. If you are blessed enough to give your children more than you had growing up do so. The caveat is this: keep your children’s expectations in check. Always provide perspective. What can happen is you raise a person who equates expensive gifts to caring or worse love. As the all wise parent and reader of this blog you know this not to be the truth. I am raising young women and I want to make sure they learn this lesson before interacting with the opposite sex. I don’t want them to chase after “shiny” things that end up damaging them in the long run. [I plan to give them plenty of shiny things]
Try to limit over spending on the holidays, aim to reward your children for being good people and not just breathing.Taking your little one to a feed the homeless or asking them to box up old toys and clothes to give to kids living in a shelter might be activities that allow you both to humbly accept just how fortunate you are to have the things you do…. like each other.
– A Single Dad