Now that Luella is three I’ve been having to hide my disdain for Christmas a bit more. She remembers having a tree last year and thanks to shows like Peppa Pig and Shaun the Sheep (plus, you know, living in a consumerist society) the idea of Santa Claus has been planted, despite my having never brought him up.
I guess I’m softening my position on St. Nick a bit. I like this post about Santa from Teacher Tom. It focuses more on the fantasy of Santa and not on the “be good so you can get presents” aspects. Jim told me about a podcast with Neil deGrasse Tyson where he talks about taking a similar approach with the tooth fairy. He’d say things like “I’ve heard that if you leave your tooth under your pillow…” and as they got older and asked questions he’d ask “Well, what do you think?”
It’s up to the kid in question whether they want to consciously buy into the fantasy or experiment to learn the truth. (And probably tells you a lot about the kid, which one they choose!)
Anyway, it also came to light this year that Lu was harbouring some Santa anxiety. Not about whether or not she was getting gifts – more about home invasion. We had to assure her that Santa would NOT get into our house unless we invited him, and she decided she wanted him to go to Nana and Pop’s house instead.
For better or worse though, she wasn’t too concerned over which presents were from Santa (which is good because we didn’t mark any as such) because she was just lost in the frenzy of opening everything.
I hate the consumerism of the holiday. Jim’s family is pretty good about making donations and handmade gifts. But our kids are pretty loved by a lot of people so those presents start stacking up quickly.
In an effort to try to counteract this, I tried to help Luella focus on the “giving” part of the holiday. This is what we did, which I think worked in an age-appropriate way.
Last weekend we sat down with Lu and made a list of all the people she wanted to give a gift to. It came out to 9 people. Then we went through and I asked her to think of at least one thing each person likes. (“Pop likes sailing his boat.” “Violet likes unicorns.” and so on…)
However, I didn’t think Jim’s Dad would really be into “a toy boat!” as she proposed we give him, based on his interest in boating. So I suggested we decorate each person a Christmas ornament with a picture of their “thing” on it.
So we headed to the craft shop and picked up 9 blank ornaments, stickers, glitter glue and little jewels. Then we google image searched each thing and Lu chose an image and I printed them all out in ornament size and we glued and decorated together.
She really concentrated on it and had to think about each person and what they would like. We also talked about what we liked about each person as we did it, so overall it was a really nice way to teach a lesson about gift giving.
On Christmas day she wanted to give out her ornament presents first thing, before she even opened any of her gifts. And of course, she’s still three and went a little nuts opening up her presents in a frenzy later. But seeing the joy on your kids’ faces is really the best Christmas gift when you’re a parent.
As she gets older I’m sure we’ll try to get her to think more about her little world too, and into the wider community and world, but for now, I think focusing on our loved ones is a nice way to enjoy the “real” meaning of Christmas.