We laugh because it’s true: Those cartoons and jokes about little kids with big wishes, lists that are longer than the child is tall, and of course every child races toward the largest boxes under the tree on Christmas morning.
Bicycles, ponies – the bigger, the better!
As kids grow up, their lists may shrink a little in length, and maybe the items on their wish lists are smaller … but the price tags seem to get bigger: Cell phones and gift cards!?!
Can you relate?
As the wise, responsible (and possibly broke) adults in their lives, we clear our throats and go into full-on lecture mode, reminding children in our most serious tone of voice that “it’s the thought that counts” and “it is better to give than to receive.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yes, of course, those things are true.
But when you’re a kid, and the 21st-century version of the Sears Wish Book is an unlimited world wide web of STUFF, it’s hard to resist asking, wishing, dreaming of just about everything.
But here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter.
Parents and grandparents and other role models and mentors, keep doing your thing by reminding children about the real reason for the season and about the rewards of giving to others. Even if it seems they aren’t listening, or just flat-out don’t believe you, they hear you. Your message is sinking in.
If you don’t believe that, think back for a few moments on your own experience as a child. You probably asked for a lot of stuff too: Nintendo 64, Beanie Babies, Furbies, Tamagotchis, Cabbage Patch dolls, Game Boys, Big Wheels … and of course, a bicycle and/or pony.
Did you get some of those things? Maybe.
Did you get all those things? Probably not.
But when you remember the Christmas and holiday seasons of your childhood, are those “things” your fondest memories?
Or do you remember your mother bustling about in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on her famous green bean casserole? Not because she necessarily loved to cook, but because she loved to cook for her family.
Or maybe you remember your dad pretending to be thrilled with another tie and another bottle of after-shave – even though, looking back, you realize he never wore ties and never wore cologne.
Maybe you remember your grandmother holding out her arms, chuckling warmly as her grandchildren clambered into her lap, and you realize you never felt safer or more loved than you felt in her embrace.
Or you remember the voice of your uncle – usually jolly and full of mirth – but quiet now, somber and deep as he recited the story of the first Christmas: “And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field …”
And as you fell asleep, happy and exhausted at the end of a day filled with laughter and love and hugs and handshakes and singing and shouting, it wasn’t the toys and gifts that filled your dreams.
It was family.
So don’t worry too much about what your children ask for this Christmas, and certainly don’t worry about how much money you may or may not have to spend. Give your children what they really want, and someday they will realize it’s all they ever needed: Love.