The Race is On

Dec 20, 2013

The middle-aged woman’s excitement was palpable as she described the lovely gifts she had just purchased.

Her two grandchildren would be in her home at some point for the holidays, and she’s planned to recreate every holiday tradition her family’s ever enjoyed.  She’ll bake each cookie recipe in her family cookbook.  She’s arranged a visit from a friend who owns a Santa suit. 

And the gifts!  She’s bought every toy these children might possibly desire, and looks forward to showering them with her love on December 22.

Then on December 23, these same children will be visiting another set of grandparents who’ll likely do the very same thing.   On the 24th, they’ll stop by to see great-grandparents to receive their presents.  And on December 25th, their own parents will complement the avalanche of gifts brought by Santa Claus.

Throughout this chaotic crescendo, children will be over-stimulated and over-indulged.  Parents will feel depleted and depressed as they come down from the over-the-top celebrations.

Is there a better way to help children experience the holidays?  It’s a question that bears reflection for thoughtful parents who want to teach their children that our cultural and religious heritages represent more than such excess. 

A dad told me his family uses the holidays to immerse their kids in their culture.  They read the mountain of holiday books they’ve accumulated.  They listen to music and try to join in.

A mom described that she and her children create homemade gifts for each other to minimize the impact of marketing and emphasize the spirit of giving.  Several families I know prepare gifts for low-income kids from the community’s Angel Tree. 

One family says they’re practicing “presence” more than presents.  Sure, they give their children a few gifts, but more importantly, they use the holidays from school and work to really be with their kids. They play games and cook together. 

Maybe we can practice restraint and share real treasures with kids and grandkids this year, telling stories about family holidays past, weaving the cord of memory into this year’s holiday to carry it forward into our family’s future.

 Audio FileMost families have traditions & values they want to pass on to their children at the holidays, but often are busy as their children become overwhelmed as the race to the 25th is on! Claudia shares her thoughts on how to make time for what’s most important.”Edit | Remove