"I am always doing what I cannot do yet in order to learn how to do it." Vincent
Van Gogh

Monday, December 21, 2015

Why I Will never NOT Give My Children a Gift at Christmas

          This Christmas I have witnessed multiple posts on Facebook of people hating the gifts of Christmas.  They don't want to shop, they don't want to commercialize it, and they don't want to support the big companies and their millions.  There are also those who don't want to raise selfish children, but a selfish child is not made by Christmas alone.  I decided, a long time ago, that there would never be a Christmas without a present under the tree for each family member, including the adults.  Here is my story why.

      When I was growing up we didn't have much.  This is the beginning of the story for a lot of people in this world.  I am sure there are many who can relate.  I believe my parents did they best they could at times, and at times they were selfish.  My mother got into drugs, some harder drugs as I got older, and my father let her.  I love both my parents very much, that I want to make clear, and they are clean and sober today.  The realities of my youth have followed me in my life though, and I have needed healing for many things.  I wouldn't, however, change it.  The lessons it taught me are far more valuable to me than the pain that needed healing.  Anywho, back to the story.

     I have had more Christmases than I can remember where they were bleak, no presents under the tree, and several without a tree, but I can remember the good ones too.  I can remember the tree and the laughter.  I can remember Christmas cookies, and the fun of Santa and Christmas morning. Perhaps those good memories made the bad ones harder, or perhaps it helped me see better what Christmas really did.  I know it is about Jesus, and his birth, but we wouldn't be celebrating it the way we do if more didn't take place.  By more I mean the joy, the happiness, the laughter, and more than anything, the value we place on each other.

   I believe that is what I remember the most.  I remember a Christmas where we had no tree.  I was living with only my mom at the time and she was usually high or far gone in her world.  We didn't have a tree at all, and had no money for one.  This was before the day of Facebook and telling the world your woes and generous strangers would help out.  No one helped out this year.  My mom, however, in one of her rare moments of sanity, went about the neighborhood one day while I was at school and collected all the tree branches from Christmas trees that people had thrown out.  You know, those ones at the bottom or top that they trim off.  She brought them home, and placed them in a bucket and hung ornaments on it.  I didn't get a present that year, but I couldn't have asked for anything more.  My mom had remembered, and for that moment I was reminded that I mattered to her.

    I don't know how many Christmases my parents had my name on one of those trees you see in the grocery stores, but I remember receiving gifts at school (set aside for the poor), and I remember strangers bringing gifts over, strangers whom I now know were a part of those groups that help bring gifts to needy children.  More than anything, I remember the feeling that those gifts gave me, and the feeling that courses through me at the memories.  I remember being remembered.  I remember being important, wanted, and that to someone I mattered.  I was someone, and I was not forgotten.

     There were Christmases in my past, only a few that occurred when I was a teenager where I received nothing at all for Christmas.  Those were the hardest times for me because it was then no one remembered me.  I wasn't important enough for a small gift, even as simple as a candy cane.  I guess cause I was no longer a small child I didn't need my name on a tree, or I should get over the hype of Christmas.  It is just a big commercialized event anyway.  All of us can think on when someone, at some point, gave us a gift out of love and a good heart.  Even the least of us can remember the kindness of someone who handed us something at this time, not because of any obligation, but out of the joy of giving.  A card, a candy, a cup of hot cocoa to just name a few.  Nothing elaborate needed, just pure heart and love.  We can all remember the warmth, the happiness, and joy it brought us.  Why does it bring us such joy?  I believe it is because we are told, with every little gift, that we matter.

   The world likes to say that actions speak louder than words, the Bible likes to say that you will know people by their fruit (which is often the evidence of their actions).  I believe this to be true.  One of the greatest gifts you can give is any gift of joy, good heart, and purity that makes someone remember that they matter.  Give hot cocoa to someone waiting out in the cold, wrap some presents and hand them out to strangers who need a blessing, and a reminder that they are important.

     I will never not give my children a gift at Christmas.  I will always get them something they need, something they want, and some other odds and ends that make the holidays fun and memorable.  I will work to the best of my ability to remind them, in my actions, that they are remembered and that they matter.  If I want to teach my children to not be selfish there are plenty of opportunities to do such, such as picking gifts out for other children, handing gifts out to those in need, and more.  I believe everyone needs a gift, however small it may be, at Christmas, adults and children alike.

P.S.  If you don't want to support the big companies then shop local. There are always plenty of talented artisans who need the support of their communities to thrive.  You will never find the quality that comes from the real love of the craft in a big commercial store.