Christmas, Commercialism, Children - How I handle it.
I got a nice message from a good friend yesterday. It seems that he (and lots of thinking people today) have gotten so fed up with the crass commercialism of Christmas and the holiday seasons. Christmas is given lip service about being about the birth of Christ and sharing and loving; but it's actually about buying crap at sales nowadays.
Christmas today is given the same sort of lip service that "Freedom" is given in America today: "Freedom this or that, blah, blah." But the real story is police brutality 24/7, riots, mass media sensationalism selling fear, and killing, maiming and making into orphans dark skinned kids in Middle Eastern nations round the clock for these last few decades.
But I digress... This article isn't about the failings of modern society; it's about how I think Christmas could be handled for a young family with a small child.
My friend writes:
Hey, how do you handle material holidays with your boy? I'm all into Christmas as a family event but hate this hyper consumerism. Been thinking how I'm going to handle this. Some toys, but family time for introspective and charity work to help others? Like the thing that really tugs at my heart string is ORPHANS. That shit really gets me. I was reading an article about these poor little babies with no bonding, etc. Something like that.
Ah? Well, Christmas for small children (up until about 8 years old) is a magical thing, I think. If you have no TV, you won't see the consumerism stuff at all very much. We don't.
Lol! So we are back to the burn the TV! Btw, I got that TV addiction book you recommended (The Plug in Drug) - Frightening! I also did some other research. I'm minimizing all of this with my kid been explaining this to the wife -- not that she watches much, but kids are so susceptible.
After 8-years-old or so, boys start getting to where they are not interested in toys anymore.... That's when you can begin to scale stuff back. This year, my son's birthday present? Robert Stinnet's - Day of Deceit. This year's Christmas present? He gets to go on a school trip to Hiroshima with his class mates (Hey! That's not cheap! It cost me a couple hundred bucks!)
A family tradition at my home, family gets together and puts up the tree together (OK. OK... Dad is a bit lazy and mostly watches...)
Of course we have a tree... A few gifts under it... But the big deal at Chrstmas now, he's 11, is putting the tree and decorations up with mom and dad and having family over for turkey. That's about it. The days of 20+ presents under the tree for the boy ended a few years ago when he was no longer interested in train sets and model cars.... Actually, at our home, we don't really do the gift thing anyway (like I said, did for the boy when he was little) but now, if you see something someone would like or need, we buy it then - doesn't matter the time of year.
The big deal of the holidays is friends and family come over and we feast.... Kids do not expect junk anymore... Even the 11 year old... I ask him what he wants and he says, "Nothing, really." This will happen to your boy, I'm sure. But, I think, (for your wife too and photos and memories) definitely have great Christmases for your child's 1st Christmas to about his 7th or 8th, when he won't believe in Santa Claus anymore....
Of course, now my son has a iPad and a MacBook Pro, but and he does play games with friends (20 minutes a day maximum)... But I also got him into programming so he made his first computer game the other day at computer class at school.
I just asked my son if he remembers the time he had 28 presents under the tree (volume matters to a little kid)... He remembers that one well, he says. He was 5 at the time.
I get it! I love the trips idea.... Get him experiences.
Have you had to deal with him and video games?
We have no TV so it seems to me that he isn't interested in that sort of thing like his fanatical friends.
Great advice. For me as a kid, I loved the family gathering at my grandmas and also "Santa" who would appear and make the rounds. That was when I believed but still a blast when I didn't btw, do you do Thanksgiving dinners?
Yes. Tomorrow we will have "Thanksgiving." Late December we will have a turkey. Tomorrow I will roast a 2.5 kilogram free range chicken (kind of expensive as chickens go).... Kids come over. Eat. Spend time together. That's it. It think this sort of family tradition is healthy for the kids.... When I was a kid, we were kind of poor... So I loved Thanksgiving the best.
Thanksgiving was best because there were no presents... I got real fed up with the Christmas commercialism by the time I was 17. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that I have actually always enjoyed: Just get together, eat and talk. No presents. Just enjoy the day... It's not good, though, when dad and uncle or big brother start fighting during the dumb football game during the day. That ruins it for everyone...
Until they make up later in the week and then do it all over again next year!
Well, then the conversation went off in another direction. I guess the basic point is that, in spite of the commercialism, Christmas can be a magical time for a young family and their small children. I think it is good to build family traditions and create memories for mom and child. I also think that we need to mellow out our political rantings this season and allow them to have a quiet and peaceful time together making memories of the short time they have together as mom and infant/small child. (If you don't, mom may get a bit resentful later on.)
Just remember what we are here for and what this season is actually really for. Also remember that, if you handle it well, then ten ~ twenty ~ thirty years from now when you think, "Those were the good old days!" You'll be thinking about now.
Have a good holiday season.
Thanks to James Santagata