I am struggling this Christmas. Not because it's stressful, because it isn't. Not because we are running out of money, because we're not. Not because anything is getting in the way at at all...but because it's hitting me that I have an obligation to my children to teach them how to do Christmas RIGHT. And I'm finding that I'm doing that part wrong.
When I look under the tree at all the gifts already there, I feel really proud. I'm proud that I have built the kind of life that affords a Christmas tree with mountains of presents under it because giving truly IS better than receiving. But in the very act of giving, and getting the point myself, I am sending the wrong message to my boys. And yet, it's like a reflex to reach for the iPad and log onto Amazon every. single. time. Harrison sees a commercial for something and says, "Can I have that toy, Mommy?" He will not be disappointed at all this Christmas, and that's great and all...but right now, his idea of Christmas centers around the presents he will get on Christmas morning. Don't get me wrong, I know that part is pee-your-pants exciting. But what about magic?
I think back to my favorite Christmases as a kid, and my warm fuzzies in no way are centered around an amazing toy, but from the feelings of warmth and anticipation and happiness and togetherness. The beauty of Christmas lights, the sounds of a choir singing Christmas carols, the way the house smelled with the tree and candles mingling in our living room. Baking cookies for Santa, staring at my grandmother's nativity scene for hours and imagining what it was like to be there. Wishing for snow. But here I am flooding my kids with "stuff" and patting myself on the back for being such a great giver of things and just flat-out setting them up for disappointing Christmases in the future.
As an adult, with a faded imagination and sense of wonder, how are we supposed to know how to create magic anymore? That is the gift I want to give my kids, not a sense of entitlement and far-fetched expectations and a longer Christmas list each year. I know that some of you parents have a system for not spoiling your kids at Christmas - I haven't found mine yet, but I'm looking for ideas. Because I have two really good, sweet little boys and I want to keep them that way. They deserve all the fun that money can buy, but it doesn't mean they should have it. So where do I draw the line?
I did not know parenting choices would be difficult, I just pictured it all pretty black and white and easy to decide and it's NOT. Lots of reality checks these past 4 years. I did not count on Christmas being difficult or tricky to navigate. I pictured it to be the most fun of all and it really has been so far, but now that the babies are getting attitudes and mastering the eye roll and turning into actual people...I need guidance. How do I wrap them in the glow of holiday spirit without making it about a toy store free-for-all in their own living room?