This time of year with its chilly mornings and playground equipment that isn’t too hot to touch by 8:30 in the morning always reminds me of the movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The movie is awesome, an all-time favorite of ours.
(Here we are with Allegra, all dressed up for Halloween, 2002.)
But our own personal nightmare before Christmas starts around this time of year because it becomes a veritable roller coaster of birthdays, parties, planning, and holidays. Braedyn’s birthday party planning is in high gear, thus starting the crazy ride that doesn’t stop until the beginning of the next year.
Complain as I may, this is a ride that I adore. I love the holidays, and I masochistically love the pain that comes with planning parties. I love watching the excitement that grows in the kids. The excitement that comes from discovering that the birthday they’ve been talking about for the LAST SIX MONTHS is actually here. The thrill of finally getting to put on their Halloween costumes. The sugar rush from all the trick-my-treat candy. The awe of the Christmas tree assembly. The thrill of seeing a stuffed stocking on the end of their beds on Christmas morning.
This year though I’m overwhelmed by the whole gift giving/receiving tradition. It’s a rush of gifts for the kids with Braedyn’s birthday in October and Emily’s the day after Christmas (insert boo track here). And frankly, we don’t need anymore toys in this house. That won’t stop it from happening though, and I’m honestly not trying to stop it. Greg and I are enormous kids at heart, so much so that even WE embrace the thrill of knowing we’re getting new loot on Christmas morning.
I’ve read about kids donating their own presents to families in need, which I think is truly remarkable and I hope that one day my kids really embrace the importance of giving to others and adopt a lifestyle of caring for others. Right now we are hoping they are learning by example, through Greg’s and my actions. One way we do this now is by donating. Greg has shaved his head for charity. (Um, yes, we all know it more the thought that counted there.) We’ve held an Alex’s Lemonade Stand (more to come on this). We’ve organized and participated in Adopt-a-Family events. We always give gifts to less fortunate children and families around the holidays. I’m not saying we’re all that and a bag of chips. I know we could do more, and we do try. I guess I’m saying this because we do make a concerted effort to be a giving and caring family. We do this while at the same time totally digging the gift buying and giving thrill with our children and with each other. Greg loves new toys. I love new toys. The kids undoubtedly love new toys. We keep it within limits. Ok, we sometimes go overboard. A little. I don’t think this makes us capitalist pigs. I don’t.
Another way we teach by example is through donating to charity. I have had discussions with Braedyn about why we were donating some of his things to charity. Once it was a tearful discussion about why his bike had to go to a new little boy. Hmmm, could it be because his knees hit the handle bars? By the end of the talk, he got it. Well, mostly. Today I took some of Emily’s toys to The Salvation Army. I’m trying to make room for what I know lay ahead, but please learn this simple lesson from me. Don’t do a charity run with a child in the car when she is still too young to have the discussion about donating to others. I was sneaky enough about it, backing the van into the parking spot, so they wouldn’t see what was getting evicted from our house. One such item was a toy I picked up at a garage sale for Emily for a dollar. It was cute enough, but she never played with it. So why was it a problem today? This damn toy somehow got activated while the guy at Salvation Army was helping unload the back of the van. It started to play its oh-so-charming and lavish princess enchanted frickin’ fairy music. And queue tears. Real ones. Rolling down the cheeks. I could have smashed that damn toy right on the spot.
So as much as Greg and I may bitch about all the toys in the house, I know it also thrills us. We love this time of year as much if not more than the kids do. We get the thrill of watching the kids’ eyeballs practically pop out of their heads with anticipation. And we get the joy from and challenge of teaching our children the importance of giving to others. It’s all about moderation, right? And teaching moderation to preschoolers is nothing if not a challenge. Hell, it’s hard to teach it to my husband too. *wink*