As Christmas evolves into a more secular, general holiday in our culture, one hears the nostalgic pleading from some corners that we need to push back against the rampant commercial-ganza that Christmas has become. I’m in that corner too.
No other special occasion seems to garner this kind of incessant shop-shop-shopping. But while it’s true that we lavish excessive amounts of “things” upon our loved ones during this holiday, Christmas stands out as such a unique day in our culture because it has become one of the only times when children actually experience the sweet joy of anticipation.
It seems, at least in the social circles I happen to be in, that children are given not only what they need, but also what they want, immediately. The old-fashioned save-up-the-allowance program for big ticket items has fallen by the wayside.
Although we tend to keep things simple in our home, I too am guilty of this kind of instant gratification to my children. The example that comes to mind immediately was this past summer. My daughter needed and wanted a new bicycle. My husband wanted to give it to her as a birthday gift, but I felt that it was silly to wait – she needed a new bike and her birthday was at the end of the summer season. But he reminded me that her old bike, although a bit small and clunky for her, still worked just fine. She didn’t really need a bike right away. So, instead, she was told she would get to pick out a brand new bike for her birthday present. She savoured the time to anticipate … looking in different stores with my husband, checking out various colours, styles and features.
Which brings me to my main point here: anticipation is not just a good thing in terms of learning the value of a dollar. By instantly gratifying our children’s desires, we are actually depriving them of the happiness that comes with anticipation.
It is anticipation that makes Christmas so special for children — not that they will receive gifts, but anticipating that they will receive gifts.
So for Christmas this year, I will make a New Year’s resolution to deprive myself of the jolt of joy that I get from trying to immediately delight my children with some new item and will instead grant them the time to save, imagine, plan and hope. Anticipation is a gift of which I don’t want to deprive them.
“Lovely Kid Waiting for Santa” Wallcoo.net