Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The story of one Christmas Barbie...

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I don't have very many memories about the presents I received during the holiday season when I was little. Most of the gifts were practical: new sneakers, pants, paints or books. I had a handful of toys growing up, and it was normal.

The first "expensive" and "unneeded" gift that I can remember was a Barbie doll. It was a tennis playing Barbie with dark hair, bright-blue eyes, wearing a green swimsuit and a tiny white skirt. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen...

I was 10 back then. My parents got the doll a few weeks before the New Year, and the next day they brought it home, my Mom was so giddy with excitement that she couldn't wait. She showed me the doll just for a few seconds and then quickly hid it away from me... Surely, by ten I already knew all of my parents' "hiding places". Within minutes after Mom left the room, I was holding MY Barbie again in my hands. Because I couldn't control my own enthusiasm, I showed it to my sister who was 3 at a time... As you can imagine, a lot of fighting and screaming followed, and my parents re-hid the doll in a place I could never locate afterwards. I still got it on the morning of though :)

When my husband was a child, he would get an abundance of gifts. But two of the bigger ones would be from "Santa" and from his parents. As you can imagine, he "believed" in Santa way into his teenage years...:) When my older boy became old enough to care about presents, we continued Hubby's family tradition. He (and later them) would get a gift from us, a gift from the white-bearded man and a whole galore of other smaller things both from us and the family.

A couple of months ago, when my husband still didn't have any prospects of steady employment, we sat down with our boys and told them that we just can't afford as many gifts as we did before, so we decided that we would not give a "big gift" from parents this year. We would still do the stocking and some other smaller things from us (like new jammies and books).

So when the offer for a job came, the Christmas gift thing definitely came up too. But our kid beat us to it. He came to me and said: "Mom, now that Daddy has a job, will you, guys, give me a Christmas gift too???" His eyes were lit with excitement but somehow there was a speckle of greed hiding deep-down in them under all of the brightness and light. It made me feel uncomfortable. How did we raise a child who thought that only "more is more" when it comes to Christmas season?

And then deep-down it clicked. We always tried to teach our boys the true meaning of Christmas but now it was time to take it to a whole new level. We've given more to others as part of the season celebration but this time it will be about sacrifice. To give what we want to those less fortunate. Because Jesus didn't just share some good with us, He gave us all. He gave His life for us, and we can only attempt to pay just a bit of it back.

"Honey, this year we'll do it differently..."- I said softly. And, maybe, somewhere, in a small room with modest surroundings, there will be a boy or a girl who would think that their gift was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen...

17 comments:

  1. I didn't get a lot for Christmas because there wasn't much money. However, every year we had to give away some of our toys away to other kids that didn't have much. I think my mother was very clever. Not only was she teaching us about giving to others, she kept the amount of toys under control which was needed with four kids. One Christmas when I was about four, I remember giving away my favorite stuffed dog. I was so proud that I was giving it someone who I was sure would love it just as much as I did.

    When my boys were younger, Santa brought the big gift and the others were small things from us like a book. Stockings were usually filled with something like a chocolate bar and silly putty. They had enough relatives giving to them, that they didn't need much from us. In fact after a week or so, many of the new things were put away and brought out later when they would be truly appreciated.

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    1. I agree, your Mom was really smart! Thank you for sharing your story.

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  2. well said. I grew up getting 1 present from my parents, usually money from one set of grandparents, adn 1 gift from a close aunt. That was ALL, it was awesome. I treasured those couple of gifts. In past years we have not spent much money on gifts for our children or ourselves (I am taking less than $20)...we love each other very much and we really try to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

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    1. I felt the same way. I rarely got gifts from anybody but my parents, and I valued them a lot.

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  3. Lena, you are both wonderful parents teaching your boys the value of Life, and not the price of material. xx

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    1. Well, thank you so much, my friend :)

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  4. Lena, beautiful post! My mom always made each of us (4 children) new pajamas and bathrobe every year for Christmas. It was always special. We got other things but it's the gifts my mom made herself that I still remember.

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    1. Thank you, Kathy! I wish I could make some pajamas for my boys but alas, I only know how to sew straight lines :) I need to take more classes from Carla :)

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  5. I think that getting them involved in choosing gifts for others is a very big help and might steer them more into the right direction. One of our co-worker's kid would come by when we were doing wrapping for our "Christmas family" (through Social Services), and one of those times he saw a gift he really liked, and almost threw a fit because he didn't want to give it back. His mother explained to him where that was going and such, and he understood. Then a few days later when she was shopping with him, she told us he asked for a toy, but he was asking about it for one of his cousins because he'd rather give it to him than keep it. They learn quick.

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    1. Yeah, we were thinking of doing, maybe, a angel star thing in Macy's. Or toys for tots. I want them to choose what they would like to receive themselves.

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  6. It seems that if you already told your child that the reason he wasn't getting a present from his parents was because Dad is not working, Now that Dad is working it seems unfair to change the reason why he is not getting a present. Maybe buy your child a nice gift and have him pick out something nice for someone else. Children have an amazing sense of what is unfair that we as adults sometimes don't see

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    1. You made some valid points here. Thank you for sharing it! Luckily, I have very close relationships with him. Oh, maybe, he's just too young :) But he's actually very excited right now to do it for somebody else, a child whose parents can't get a nice gift for him/her. I was surprised at how understanding he was when we approached the topic because he's only 7 years old. He didn't have any hard feelings whatsoever... I'm so proud of my boy :)

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  7. What a beautifully written post Lena. You should submit something like this to Deseret News - they are collecting "Christmas I Remember Best" entries until Dec 2.

    I just went through all of our Christmas plans and stash with Adam while the kids were at school today. We have got most of our Christmas shopping done, but still have a few things. When I calculated what we spent and will spend, I was so grateful that my kids aren't the "I want" kind of kids that need big expensive gifts. They are content with little, meaningful things. Of course, they would love a big expensive gift, but have come to understand that this isn't a good idea for many reasons. They are going to have a leaner Christmas this year (kidney stone surgery isn't cheap) and will share one nice Christmas present - a new computer for the kids (we hope). And Santa just brings them small things most of the time.

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    1. Now that's an idea :) I'll think about it...

      Your kids are just awesome! I hope, you can get a great deal on that new computer for them.

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  8. I really struggle with this every year. Growing up we always received 1 present from our parents and the rest were from Santa. And I will admit Santa brought us a lot of presents. That is where I struggle now. I want Christmas to be a time when my son can get some of the things he really wants. We don't but him toys during the year, only for his birthday in November and for Christmas. He does donate all the toys he doesn't play with anymore in the beginning of December to make room for his new toys. He is only turning 7 and I don't want to ruin the illusion of Santa yet. I save a little money each week during the year so he can have that 1 splurge at Christmas though.

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  9. Lena, this is so beautifully written and so powerful! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  10. I always struggled with the Santa end of Christmas. Both Hubby and I grew up with Santa gifts, but I didn't want Christmas to be about Santa or gifts, and I wanted to ban Santa from the house. Really difficult when the grandparents insist on making a big deal about it. I think you are doing a good thing for your children. How better to illustrate Jesus' gift to us than to give to others.

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