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.