#841: The Emperor has no clothes—and he needs gifts to be happy

The Girl and the Boy both picked out presents this week, as charitable donations to disadvantaged kids. While this was quite a big deal for at least one of them (the little one, who still needs to be convinced that ’tis better to give than to receive), it was a valuable learning experience for me too. It made me realise that I’m not the only who feels just a tad uncomfortable about the process.

You see, I appreciate and support the idea that everyone who can, should do what they are able to, to make a child’s Christmas a little brighter. Yet, there was always something that bothered me a smidge about the whole idea of equating happiness with a new toy under the tree. I don’t want to sound like one of these curmudgeons who say, “I didn’t have a lot of toys when I was a kid, and I turned out all right.” Still, I want to believe that children can have wonderful holiday memories, even without a bunch of toys and presents under the tree.

So I was relieved and comforted to know that I wasn’t the only one, when the Girl said to me this week, unprompted, “There’s one thing that bothers me: It’s the idea that a kid has to expect a toy to be happy. It just turns them into adults who think that buying and giving presents makes you happy at Christmas.”

Exactly. Sometimes we need a child to express to us that the Emperor has no clothes. And on top of that, he needs gifts under the tree.


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