Part 5 in my Series on Giving and Forgiving
You can also read Part 1: Deck the Halls with PsychoAnal Gifts, Part 2: The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving, Part 3: Balancing the Four Rooms, and Part 4: The Candy Cane Crux.
I have been incredibly moved by the response to this series. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to connect. Today, I am proud to present a guest post from a writer who enjoys their anonymity.
Santa will not be squeezing his well-nourished body in his pristine red suit down the chimney of any of the tents at the Dadaab refugee camp. No sack loads of toys or stocking fillers will be getting delivered there. He won’t be coming to my house either.
If by some miracle any part of the story were a reality, but there wasn’t enough magic to go round every little boy and girl in the whole world, I’d find it really easy to explain to my kids why he wasn’t headed for our house. I can’t begin to imagine how you explain to a child that such magic will be delivered by flying reindeer to them, but not, for example, the children of Somalia.
When he does visit he gives more to rich kids than poor kids. Magic indeed. This leaves those who can least afford it putting spare cash in mis-sold schemes with little or no guarantees they’ll see their money back never mind any interest and / or taking out loans at exorbitant interest rates to try to keep up with the pressure to “give the kids a happy christmas.”
I’m currently in the very fortunate position of being able to afford to buy my kids lots of toys, books, day trips etc etc, so we could easily have them wake up on Christmas (or any other) morning to a mountain of gifts and watch their little faces light up over and over as they opened package after package. Items which would presumably be promptly set aside as the next was opened, which in turn would be superseded but the next and the next.
What would this teach my child about how happiness is achieved? Visions of spiralling credit card debts as my grown-up shopaholic tries to soothe herself with yet another pair of shoes, another bag, that cute little top flash in front of my eyes. It’s not definitely going to end in tears, there are lots of other possible outcomes;
I’m just wondering why you’d want to teach your kid happiness is a mountain of stuff you don’t look at after you’ve unwrapped it. Not least because what if there comes a time my finances aren’t so in the black. What if next year it’s a choice of a 20% pay cut or redundancy instead of a bonus and pay rise? How do you explain tough economic times in the North Pole economy?
Let’s not forget the concept of the annual “must have toy.” Somehow word gets round that there’s this new toy and every kid wants one. So the shops promptly up the selling price and it still sells out. There are fights in the aisles of any store that gets a delivery of this treasure. There are online auctions allowing those parents who put off buying till late November a chance to hope something they’ve paid many times the retail price for arrives in the mail.
Every family in your kid’s school class is likely to own one of these toys, but until December 25th no one will have actually played with it. I’m not saying they all turn out to be over-hyped plastic tat, but so far as I’ve noticed there never seems to be a mad clamour for the same item the following year.
It’s important to me that my kids know where stuff comes from, the effort, materials and other resources that went into producing it, packaging it, shipping it, selling it, the impact on them and the wider world of the choices they make regarding what stuff to buy. These are pretty big concepts to explain to a small child. I can’t think of a way to incorporate magic or the slave labour of elves into the discussion without making it significantly more confusing.
I’m not disputing that childhood is a magical time. I absolutely believe that it is.
We live at an extraordinary time in an extraordinary place, surrounded by mind-blowing biodiversity and endless opportunities and potential. To be able to see all that for the first time, experience it without the distractions of responsibilities or deadlines or preconceptions, to just absorb and enjoy it, to figure it out at your own pace, that’s the magic of childhood.
Life is good, childhood is great! Of course children have to figure out who they are and where they fit in this big, sometimes bad, world, which is a pretty momentous task. I don’t see how it helps to throw misinformation into the mix.
“Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child.” Ron Wild
It’s not the spirit of gift giving I have a problem with. If you want to have a party and have someone dress up in a fancy suit to give gifts to children, the needy or needy children, it sounds like a fun day to me. It’s irrelevant to me whether that person is dressed in a red furry outfit or a mickey mouse costume.
I would think the kids benefitting from the experience would get even more from it knowing it was their more fortunate neighbours who wanted to do something to help them. But the whole nonsensical charade of adults wrapping up deodorant and toothpaste to give each other as stocking fillers, so it appears everyone got lots of gifts is just crazy!
If we are starting to realise we shouldn’t bring the toiletries back from the supermarket in a single use plastic bag, why would we still think it’s a good idea to surround some of the items in shiny printed paper, hold it together with single use sticky tape which cannot be recycled, with or without bows or decorative ribbon or a gift tag? There must be another way!!
Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” ~ Oren Arnold
Wishing you warm winter moments and the merriest of memories, whatever or however you are celebrating.
How do you reconcile the idea of Santa Claus with your worldview? Do you treat the magic of childhood as something intertwined with the spirit of giving and forgiving?
Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
- Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?
- Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?
- Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?
- Questions from Part 4: How do you handle candy in your family? Is giving candy in a separate category from giving gifts? Why or why not?
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- The Candy Cane Crux (touchstonez.com)
- Deck the Halls with Psychoanal Gifts (touchstonez.com)
- The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving (touchstonez.com)
- Balancing the Four Rooms (touchstonez.com)
- Guest Post: The Key to Everything (touchstonez.com)
- When the Chitta Hits the Fan (touchstonez.com)
- Giving from the Heart (vibrantwanderings.com)
- Family Traditions: To Santa or Not to Santa (naturalparentsnetwork.com)
- What’s Not Ok? (A Self-Forgiveness Post) (itsokblog.com)
- Yama, Niyama and the Red Pajama Mama (naturalparentsnetwork.com)
- Further proof that children are socially cooperative creatures (hobomama.com)
- More on the Culture of More(angelbabyjazzymama.blogspot.com)