Every year my children make wish lists for Christmas. As they’ve grown older, their lists have gotten longer and the prices have increased. Cell phones. iPods. Clothes. Video games. As parents we want to give our kids everything they want, but when do we go too far?
I’ve been struggling with this the past couple of weeks. I’ve been hesitant to purchase the big ticket items, wondering if I’m doing my kids a disservice. The last thing I want to do is raise entitled kids.
Yesterday at lunch I asked them how much they think we should spend on each child. My oldest jokingly said, “A thousand dollars.” I nearly spit my drink across the table. Instead, I gave him a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look. Then he smiled and said, “Makes five hundred sound pretty good, huh?” I had to laugh.
All joking aside, it shows my kids have high expectations of what they want under the tree and it’s up to my husband and I to show them the true meaning of Christmas.
So what do kids really need for Christmas?
Time together: Whether the Christmas tree is 2 feet or 8 feet tall, cut down or pulled out of a box, kids want to experience the feel of Christmas. Every year on the first Saturday in December we blast Christmas songs and decorate for the holidays. We put up the Christmas tree and fill it with ornaments, hang garland on our staircase, and string lights on the house. We all work together and enjoy this yearly tradition. One of my kids loves the smell of our “Christmas candle” that sits in the middle of our kitchen table during the holidays. Just last night he picked it up, smelled it, and said, “Ah, smells like Christmas.”
Love: When my babies were small I smothered them with kisses. As they’ve grown into teenagers I still hug and kiss them, but I’ve found they need words of affirmation too. Recently, I had a difficult conversation with one of my kids. Midway through, I felt God’s gentle nudge to say, “I love you so much.” Let’s remember to say these words to our kids during good and bad times. Words of affirmation will last a long longer than any present under the tree.
Acts of service: Let’s face it; we all tend to be selfish. Our busy schedules don’t allow for much community service, but it’s important to show kids that life exists beyond our four walls. When my oldest daughter was in junior high, we created a Christmas box for an elderly person. We had so much fun picking out the different items, and my daughter spent countless hours knitting a pink scarf. She was so proud of her hard work and still talks about it to this day. Every year we get our kids involved with picking out and purchasing a gift for a child that wouldn’t otherwise receive one.
Other Ideas: Watch Christmas movies together, bake cookies for our neighbors, listen to Christmas music, tell stories as you sit by the fire, invite friends to church, read the Bible story of Christ’s birth.
Most of the time, what we need is totally different than what we want. Jesus came to earth as a baby born in a manger. He is the best gift of all.
How do you show your kids the true meaning of Christmas?