Friend of the Family:
Reflections of a Magical Christmas, Redefined
By Jessy Milicevic
I read a mommy blog recently that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Published on the Huffington Post website, the blogger, Lyn Lenz, writes about the joys of indulgent gifting during Christmas. She owns up to defending consumerism and acknowledges that she enjoys spoiling her daughter on that one particular day of the year. And hey, I’m all for respecting other people’s points of view, even when it’s not my own.
But it’s when she equates gift giving to magic, and the value of teaching her daughter that magic, that I furrow my brow.
I agree that giving gifts is fun. I love shopping for others, finding that one item I know will make their face light up with excitement when it’s opened. But I don’t believe that the magic of Christmas comes simply from gift giving, and unlike Lenz, I do believe that the high value we place on consumerism comes from the notion that gifts equal happiness.
I realize this is an old adage; that stories such as A Christmas Carol and Gift of the Magi were written to express this very notion. But how far have we strayed as a community of parents, if we are casually referencing this belief only one time a year? And, if during that one time of year, we are also reiterating the belief that spoiling our children is not only acceptable, but encouraged in order to teach them about “magic”?
I’m not perfect. As a woman, a mother and an American, I struggle with consumerism and the need to buy things and collect stuff. But I strive to teach my children that the magic of life, the joy we extract from it, can’t be bought. And that’s a damned hard lesson to teach when at every corner, they are being inundated with the opposite sentiment. This is especially hard at Christmastime, when they expect gifts and have spent valuable time deciding what they want.
To set an example for my children, the adults in my large, expansive family have decided to opt-out of gift giving to one another this year. Of course, we will still give to the kids, but only a handful of gifts. As they open their gifts and watch as we do not, they may ask “Mommy, where are your presents?” I’ll answer with something to the affect of, “Having our whole family here in one house is Mommy’s gift. Watching you open your presents is Mommy’s gift. When you’re finished opening your presents, let’s make a special Christmas breakfast together!”
I hope I can create a magical feeling that originates from spending special time together with our family; from cooking, laughing and cuddling and playing together. We don’t get many moments with our children that are untainted by schedules or routines or the monotony of life; but this one day, this special day, we can throw all that out the window and just BE. That is where the magic of Christmas comes from. That is what my kids will seek out when they search for it as adults.