Monday, December 8, 2008
Work in Progress
Christmas can be great fun for kids. They make a wish and voila, it comes true Christmas morning.

When I was a kid, I remember waking up and discovering that Santa actually came. He dropped off gifts, even though I fought with my sister and didn't listen to my mother all year long. He knew I tried to be good and therefore took the time to place gifts under our tree. The fact that he'd been in our house leaving us presents was almost better than the presents themselves. (Almost.) And the presents, wrapped nicely and topped with a bow held enormous potential. Anything could be under that patterned paper. It could be what I asked for or it could be something Santa knew I would like much better. Something I hadn't even thought to ask for, something that hadn't even been invented yet. Cuz Santa's that kind of guy.

The past few Sundays have been torture because the kids know to look for the toy sales circulars when the paper comes. They examine these circulars as if it holds a clue to a lost civilization or unlocks the secrets of the universe. We can't actually read the paper because we have to look at this toy or that toy and listen to a chorus of "I Want THAT!" Then the art caddy is lugged off its shelf, the safety scissors are located and the kids make clippings of pictures of the toys they want. The clippings are placed in an envelope and sealed for mailing to Santa. Stray scraps of paper litter the floor which drives me crazy but the season will be over in a few weeks so I try to ignore it.

I cringe a little whenever I hear the kids cry out "I want that!" As their mother, I want them to have everything they desire but as their mother it is also my job to make them realize they can't always get what they want. Easier said than done.

We've been trying to talk to the kids about this. There's only so much they can understand when vague tales are told to them about kids who might not have a house to live in, or their parents don't have money for necessities, let alone gifts. No one they know is in any of these situations although some have a more difficult time than others making ends meet. But that's not fodder on the playground and so its difficult for them to imagine, much less understand.

As it has done in the past, our church is sponsoring a toy drive this Christmas. I took Sophie with me to pick out a few toys to donate. She handled herself well, and understood that we were there for others. In the end, we chose two Disney playsets, one for a boy and one for a girl. I think she was proud of herself and now wants to make sure we donate to the food drive at school. That girl gets an A in Empathy I tell you what.

Harry's three, and as such, is still a work in progress. Yesterday at church, John offered to stash away in the office some presents another family had brought. As he was gathering the toys to bring upstairs, Harry spied a Cars playset, which he immediately decided should be his.

We tried explaining that the playset was for the less fortunate children, ones who aren't as lucky as ours. "But, I waaaannnnnnt it," he pleaded.

We tried explaining the toys were for the needy, those who may not have warm clothes or enough to eat. Still, he whined on about how he wanted this toy.

Finally, a little exasperated, John said "But it's for the poor kids!"

Undeterred, Harry ran after John and the playset. "I want to be a poor kid! Please? Please can I be a poor kid?"


Blogger Andie said...

I think it's great that you teach the kids about those less fortunate. I try to do the same with John.
Harry: Gotta love ya!

Anonymous Vikki said...

I love the magic of Christmas but I do struggle to balance it all with the recognition of our tremendous privilege. Not easy.

My 7 year old was having a complete collapse yesterday about unfair teams during gym and I said, "Honey. You need to focus on the positive and all of the blessings in your life. You need a little perspective." He said, "Mama. I have perspective. I choose to ignore it." There you go.

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