We were unable to spend the holidays with family again this year (joys of military life) but that didn’t stop us from having one of the best Christmases yet. I remember the excitement of finding the loot under the tree on Christmas morning as a kid, but that was nothing compared the joy that fills my heart now as I watch my own kids experience that same magic. To hear my six year old say over and over again that yesterday was “the happiest. Day. Ever!” was all the Christmas gift I needed.
We have been concerned that we are teaching our kids to be too materialistic; so we scaled back a bit this year. Instead of all of the presents coming from Santa Claus, some came from Mom and Dad. The boys were even encouraged to shop for each other, and the light in their eyes as they watched their recipients open the gifts that they chose for them proved that we might be doing something right.
Parenting is tough – especially around Christmas. All too often parents around the world get frustrated with less-than-favorable behavior and we threaten our kids with the “Naughty List,” but we don’t consider how seriously our kids take those threats. My husband and I have vowed to always follow through, or else our kids would grow up thinking they could act any way they like and get what they want regardless. This year, thankfully, both our boys did nothing outside of ordinary kid-stuff. We constantly remind ourselves that kids are kids, and we cannot expect them to behave like well-cultured adults at 4 and 6 years old. No kid is perfect, least of all ours, and we should never put that pressure on them. This is not to say that we should let them get away with bad behavior or bad attitudes, etc. But if we DO end up having to use the “You’re getting nothing for Christmas because you’re not on the Nice List,” then we must follow through. It might hurt us more than the kids, but if we don’t follow through, then the lesson is lost and the behavior would only continue or worsen.
Our day was full of family time, just the four of us, playing the kids’ new games, building new Lego sets, and watching Christmas movies together. The most surprising gift the boys had asked for was a homely little nutcracker doll from the movie “The Nutcracker: The Untold Story.” It was a difficult thing to track down as it is not a mainstream toy, but I happened to find one place to buy them in the UK with the help of a friend through Facebook. I ordered one for each boy, and they arrived just a week before Christmas. I’ve never seen their eyes light up over a gift so simple, and I loved it.
This little “N.C.” is so much more than a wooden doll that doesn’t even have moving joints; he’s a symbol of wonder for my little boys. He helps fuel their imaginations and reaffirms the honor in doing the right thing. He also stands up to bullies. 😉
Next year, we will aim to pull back even more on the materialism. The boys will be another year older, and we may have a few more strands of gray, but our hearts will be all the fuller. From my family to yours, we hope you had a very Merry Christmas this year.