“And he puzzled and puzzed, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”
–How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss, 1966
For reasons that I have still yet to determine, I decided to go Black Friday shopping at Toys R Us. Why? I’m still not sure. At 3 years old and 6 months old, my sons still don’t have much on their wish lists for Christmas. Also, being the first grandchildren on both sides, Santa doesn’t need to do much shopping since the grandparents more than take care of spoiling them. I carefully selected a kid’s snow shovel, a shaving kit, a couple of baby toys, two board games, and some silly putty, feeling satisfied that I’d finished Christmas shopping for the boys. However, as I walked around, I saw parents frantically push packed carts past me, heaped with video game systems, DVDs, and toys. I literally saw a woman buying a walking, ride-on, robotic pony. Was I a scrooge? Surely I can’t have the only kids with grandparents who buy them gifts! Do normal kids seriously get this much stuff for Christmas? What message is this sending to our children?
I heard a statistic on the radio today that stood in stark contrast to my Black Friday experience. One in seven people in the United States of America are hungry. The correct term is “food insecure”. One in seven. Something about knowing this and seeing the mounds of presents and hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on Black Friday just doesn’t sit well with me.
I want Christmas to be fun for my kids. I do. I’m honestly not a Grinch…far from it, in fact! I love the holidays, and more than anything, I love my kids and want them to grow up happy. That is why I’ve decided that despite what their friends may get for presents, we will be keeping presents to a minimum (we set our limit this year at $50 per child, and that includes a pair of Christmas pajamas). What I will be doing is making family memories with them and teaching them what it means to give to others who are in need. We will celebrate by spending time together, baking, giving to those in need, and creating our own “family traditions”. What we won’t be doing is feeding into the idea that Christmas is just about getting things.
If you’re looking for some fantastic ideas of how to do this, check out this guide from the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood.