If you are like many parents, with Christmas only a week away, you are probably running around behaving like a combination of Santa Claus and the Federal Reserve Chair. Double checking our children’s gift wish list while simultaneously trying to make certain our checkbooks balance.
There are a few other noteworthy certainties about the holiday season in addition to wish lists and balanced budgets. No matter how many things we buy or how much money we spend, there is always a possibility that our efforts won’t be satisfactory.
WONDER YEARS, ROTTEN TIMES
Some years, even when we can afford to get our children everything on their gift wish list, we still want to do more. I call these years the wonder years. During the wonder years, everything about our relationship with our children is great and we want to reward them accordingly. Hence, we spare no expense when it comes to gift giving. Taking a cue from the Government, we spend lavishly even if it means our budget no longer balances.
As most parents are aware, there is also a chance that some times might not be so wonderful. In fact, some times things might be downright rotten. During the rotten times, our children’s behavior the previous twelve months is so unacceptable that giving them a lump of coal would be too good of a gift. During the rotten times, spending one cent – even when there is a budget surplus – not only causes buyer’s remorse but causes parents to become sick to their stomach.
NAUGHTY OR NICE
Recording and assessing a child’s behavior for twelve months to determine the range of gifts they receive is not just impractical it is childish. Life is already complicated enough for children without having to contend with parents who vacillate between maturity and immaturity. Yet, this is the effect the Christmas season has on many families.
Parents expect children to develop into adults but during the Christmas season, parents often find themselves modeling the most juvenile behavior. Rather than putting the focus where it should be – on the long-term health of the relationships with our children – parents too frequently spend all their time and energy focusing on the events of the past twelve months to determine the quality and quantity of gifts children will receive in the present.
Children aware of this ridiculous gift giving scheme do everything in their power to move the pendulum in their favor. Like a defendant on trial, almost as soon as the last Thanksgiving leftover is eaten, children begin presenting their case to be seen as nice not naughty. No matter how our children have behaved over the previous eleven months, the goal of our amateur barristers from Black Friday to Christmas Eve is to present a winning gift receiving case. Thanks to the system we have established, accentuating the positive and mitigating the negative is the strategy of nearly every child during the Christmas season.
TOO MUCH PRESSURE
A child’s crusade to prove their gift receiving worthiness and a parents standing as judge and jury for gift giving has the potential to remove the “merry” from Christmas. As any lawyer and judge would tell you, presenting and hearing a case is exhausting. The Christmas gifting process has become similarly fatiguing.
The truth is that we make too much of December 25th. We give one day too much power. We put so much emphasis on making the day perfect that we lose sight of the significance of the other 364 days. We put so much importance on Christmas planning that we fail to prepare a life strategy. There is so much attention paid to buying and giving gifts that we lose sight of the most important things that are free but really matter.
OLD HOLIDAY, NEW TRADITION
This Christmas can be different. This Christmas can be special. You can make this Christmas different and special by starting a new tradition. Use this Christmas as a springboard for giving your child the best gift ever.
This Christmas – different from any year previous – you can save some money, time online, and/or frustration battling crowds in the mall. This Christmas you can give your child the ultimate gift, a gift that possesses all the following qualities:
- It is old and new;
- It is infinite and finite;
- It is free and priceless;
- It is minute and momentous;
- It makes mortals immortal; and
- It’s the difference between average parents and good parents and a good parents and great parents.
THE ULTIMATE GIFT
Do you know what the ultimate gift is? Give up? The ultimate gift is time.
Time is eons old while each future millisecond is new. Time is infinite but our lives are finite. Time is freely given but what we do with the time is priceless. Time on earth is minute but our actions can be momentous. The time we are given as mortals provides us with opportunity to be immortal. The quantity and quality of time we spend with our children determines the grade we receive as a parent.
If you really want to have a Merry Christmas let this Christmas morning be the day that you commit to being completely available, wholly present and entirely accountable in mind, body and spirit to the relationship you have with your child. On Christmas morning and each day subsequent, give your child the gift of your presence. Other gifts will break and go out of style but the gift of your presence is indestructible and timeless.
What are you giving your child for Christmas? What is the best gift you ever received?