Panicking, I exclaimed to Kwabs, “Christmas is almost here!”

It was a few weeks until Christmas and we hadn’t purchased a single gift for the boys. It was time to take a close look at Max’s list, a list consisting of expensive Legos sets, candy, money, gift cards, a nutcracker, and “surprises.” We hurriedly and frantically scoured rows of toys until we were exhausted…Amazon had so many options! Who knew Legos sets can be expensive?! I envisioned Max’s exclamations of glee on Christmas morning and decided he should have everything on his list, after all I didn’t want him to think Santa had forsaken him. That is just cruel.

Christmas Eve the excitement was palpable. Max could barely contain himself and it was a struggle to get him out of the house in time for church. During the Christmas Eve service, the pastor asked us to turn to our neighbors and ask them what was the best gift they’d ever received. I excitedly turned to my neighbor, Max, and said, “Max what is the best gift you’ve ever received?” I couldn’t wait to hear him say it was the bike or the Star Wars lightsaber he begged for last year. He looked at me with a perplexed expression and for several seconds was silent. I figured he has received so many great gifts during his short lifetime that he couldn’t recall which was his favorite. He finally responded by asking, “what did I get last year?” Blank Stare. He honestly could not recall. Talk about a wake-up call!

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Kwabs and I, like many parents, spend countless hours trying to ensure our children have perfect Christmases. We want them to be magical. The best part are the squeals of delight as Max opens his gifts… but 12 months later Max couldn’t remember those gifts. I wouldn’t be surprised if after a few weeks or months he ceases to recall the gifts. We’ve all witnessed children playing nonstop with toys for a day only to abandon those toys shortly thereafter. I must admit even though I’ve had great Christmases, I have difficulty remembering specific gifts. That might be due in part to my age.

I recently had a conversation with someone who worked many hours of overtime to pay for her kids’ Christmas gifts. She wanted to give gifts, she admittedly could not afford, even if those gifts might result in unpaid bills in the new year. I assured her that her loved ones would not want her to go in debt in order to purchase lots of gifts. And yet, she is not alone; Americans spend approximately 465 billion dollars on Christmas. Some can afford to spend but many cannot.

Next year I am challenging myself to rethink Christmas. Should Christmas be a stressful time because of all the “perfect” gifts I have to get? I don’t think so. Perhaps it is time my family focuses more on the meaning of Christmas. We should also  spend more quality time with one another minus the overindulgence. After all, THEY DON’T EVEN REMEMBER THE GIFTS.

Although I don’t remember all of my Christmas gifts, I certainly remember the time I spent with my family, the delicious meals my mom prepared, and the sleepless nights due to the anticipation of it all. My parents were never able to afford to get everything on my list but Christmas was still the happiest part of my childhood. Perhaps it is time to get back to the basics and trust that the basics will be good enough for Max and Myles as well.

Merry Christmas