So far, the days leading up to the Christmas holiday have been filled with excitement, and also a few challenges. Little Mouse is now 6 and she is filled with such excitement that it’s hard to not be in the mood for all the festivities. If she had had her way, we would have put out all the decorations back in October. In fact, she has been listening to a Kids Christmas music station on Pandora at least since then.
We pulled out the decorations a few days after Thanksgiving and began to make our home reflect our heart’s celebration of the Christmas season. The excitement that Little Mouse shared as she told of the memories of Christmas’s past with each ornament pulled from the box and hung it on the tree brought memories flooding back to my mind of Christmas when I was a child. The memories each ornament brings to mind fills our hearts with warmth, but also brought the realization that there were Christmas’s “before she were born”, bringing feelings of having missed out on some special moments in years past.
We have already watched several of the classic Christmas movies (Little Mouse’s first time for all of them) – Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Story of Santa Clause, Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, etc. She has been enthralled with each one.
As far as Santa Clause goes, Little Mouse knows the truth. We’ve never played Santa, choosing instead for her to know that the gifts she receives come from people who know and love her unconditionally. The whole challenge of gift giving at Christmas really hasn’t been existent until now. She is definitely more aware of things around her that entice desire, selfishness, and greed. It seems as though Christmas these days brings a whole lot of greed into each person. This year has been no exception for our little 6 year-old. Marketing has really done it’s job lately! The toy magazines that magically show up in the mailbox this time of year, the huge displays of toys as soon as you walk into a store, and commercials (which we rarely see) planting in our minds that if we only get “this thing” we’ll be happy.
This is the first year that Little Mouse has mentioned making a Christmas list and having enormously high expectations of things she wants. It has been quite the shock to us as parents. Up until this point, we haven’t experienced this. How we manages 6 full years of no “list” and “want, want, want” attitudes I don’t really know – other than the fact that we now have cable and she reads everything she sees, literally!!
How were we going to handle this? It definitely had to be ‘nipped in the bud’ so to speak. Over lunch one day, after receiving the American Girl magazine (thank you very much AG) and hearing of all the doll things she now “has wanted her whole life”, we did our best to bring her back to reality. We talked about the cost of “name brand” and compared it to other alternatives. We talked about there being tons of things we may want, and the reality of things that we truly need. We talked about being grateful for all the things that we have already been blessed with. And, we talked about the reason we give gifts at Christmas.
We wanted it to be clear that we don’t give her gifts because she WANTS them, instead we give her gifts because we LOVE her. We told her she is welcome to make a list of things she wants, but there is a chance that she may not get anything on that list. Our purpose in giving her gifts is not to fulfill her expectations, but rather to bless her with gifts because we love her. We told her that there are things that we have in mind to give her that aren’t even on her ‘list’, but we know they are things that she will love and use for a long time.
So, rather than making a list of things she wants, we encouraged her to think of things she can give to others or things she can do for others that will show God’s love. Because that is what Christmas is all about, not about what gifts are under the tree, but the greatest gift ever given – Jesus Christ, God’s Son. God has shown us such great love by giving us eternal life through Jesus Christ. That’s what Christmas is all about – sharing God’s love with others. I wont get off on the tangent of needing to do this all year long and not just the month of December. Truly, we talk of sharing God’s love to others every day in our home – that’s our whole purpose in being here on this earth, to bring God glory by sharing His love with those around us. But, because the majority of the world celebrates Christmas and sees it as a time of wanting and getting, it is of utmost importance that we strive to share God’s love especially now. As Christians we say we celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday, and that is what we are truly celebrating, but what do our actions say? Are we too filled with selfishness and greed? Are we so caught up in the going and doing and shopping that we miss the opportunities to share God’s love with those we pass by?
I don’t write this to begrudge anyone’s traditions, but rather to challenge myself to keep Christ at the center of my celebration, and to guard my child’s heart from being distracted from the true meaning of Christmas. I know this is a process that we will work through on any given day and each year we will visit the challenges and blessings the Christmas season brings. But for now, our Little Mouse seems to be “getting it” at least for today.