This title has two purposes. It is Sophie’s first Christmas this year, but last night was also our “first” Christmas among many Christmases that we are having this year. We are going to the UP to my mom’s for December 25th and a few days before and after, so the “real” Christmas is going to be spent there and at my dad’s house. Since we will be gone, my mother in law wanted to have us over last night to exchange gifts. Then, Friday morning, my husband is off work so we will do our “Christmas” that morning. Then, at some point we will open gifts at my mom’s house, then later go to my dad’s house to do the same. There are many this year!
So, now we try to help a 3 year old understand a few things. He knows enough to know that opening presents is fun, and getting new toys is a blast. However, although he is pretty possessive of his own toys, he wants to kipe his sister’s toys too! He even thinks her pink and purple Disney princess ride on toy is his! Then to make things more complicated, my mother in law also bought her a ride on toy, but it’s Dora instead. DORA!! My son LOVES Dora! So he immediately thought it was his. It is going back to the store. He is way too big for it, and she doesn’t need two. Of course we have to return it when he isn’t with us because if we go to Toys R Us, he is going to freak out (because it’s Toys R Us and because we would be taking the Dora toy back). At least I can return it before the big backlog of returns after the holidays. Thankfully the baby has no concept of “mine” and “yours” so she doesn’t care when he is playing with her stuff. But he thinks she is not allowed to touch his Bob the Builder tool bench! I have already threatened to put everything in the basement so nobody could play with it!
My son has a tough time with transitions and limits and he always wants more, more more. Last night I had to tell him that some kids his age don’t have anything, that they even go to bed with hungry tummies because there is no food. And that he is lucky that he has enough. But, I also need to teach him that HE HAS ENOUGH! I really despise the “more is better” mentality that has seeped into our society. For a kid like Will, it’s evil. He already seems to never be happy with what he has, we could be at a friend’s house literally all afternoon and instead of being glad he had a good time, he freaks out because he wants to stay longer. I think some of that is his age, and some is his personality, because I’ve seen kids “ready” to go home and they leave without a fight. And it’s not like I never take him anywhere. We are gone more days than we are home!
I think when the kids get older, we will all go as a family to a soup kitchen or somewhere else, so they can see how we are really very lucky to have what we do, and that many, many people go to bed hungry every night. Of course all kids will want more things, because it’s the nature of being a kid, but it is hard enough in our society when most adults want “more” too and feel they are entitled to it, so they go into debt and get into all kinds of other problems as a result. So nobody is setting limits for the kids. Growing up, I didn’t have much, but it was ENOUGH and my needs never went unmet. I always had plenty of warm clothes and lots of food, and a roof over my head. And I always spent time with friends. One of my friends had to eat popcorn for dinner because there was no other food. I didn’t find out about that until we were grown but it still reminds me that we really were lucky. I am humbled and thankful that we are able to live comfortably and are financially stable. We live well within our means. I know that others are in different and more difficult situations, so that’s why I am thankful.
I just hope I can instill this into our kids. It’s hard when they have more toys than they can possibly play with, because they have a lot of family who buys them (we have too, but the majority of them have been gifts from others). Books though? Can’t have too many of those. But that’s different. Reading is a lifelong skill that is important and necessary, and the more reading is done with your kids, the better chance they have to be good readers and enjoy it their whole life. To me, books are not toys.
And, children are resourceful. I was visiting a friend who has a newborn, and hasn’t accumulated a lot of toys yet. My son found a golf ball on a table and we played with that for a long time while we were visiting. He ignored the other toys I’d brought for him and made up a “toy” of his own. On Sesame Street, Grover is a world traveler and when he visits other countries, kids there make toys out of wire and a lot of other things. When do kids get a chance to be creative when everyone dumps mountains of toys on them every birthday and Christmas? I have a new friend who grew up in France and she was amazed that we were the only family living in our 1600 square foot house. So we are excessive even in the eyes of other “developed” nations.
And that brings me right back around to being really irritated about the excessive consumerism that is rampant here in the US, and Christmas brings out the worst in us. I think Christmas brings out the good in people too, but our drive for “more” is definitely not helped by it. If there was another Great Depression, people would riot in the streets, knowing they would not be able to afford all their stuff. Can you imagine if we had to ration again? There would anarchy and chaos. We have no idea how lucky we are. This time of year always brings out such frustrating feelings in me. I read back over last year’s post about Christmas and I felt the same then. I’m always relieved when it’s over, not because I don’t enjoy the food, lights, giving gifts to people I love, and the festivities, but because we are such a nation of wastefulness, and we don’t ever seem to be happy with what we have.