So holy crow, it’s only 3 days until Christmas. This holiday is not really one of my favorites. But as I sit here listening to James Radcliffe’s Invocation, I’m starting to reflect on what I’m teaching Legoman about this season. I’m thinking about what I was or was not really taught about the celebration of Christmas.
Let me be clear: I’m not talking about the religious implications of Christmas. I’m not talking about the lack thereof, if that’s your thing. I’m not even talking about the pagan traditions that are also a central part of the western Christmas. I’m just talking about the actual spirit of the season. The giving, the receiving, the entitlement that I see becoming more and more a part of the American holiday. I wasn’t brought up to think much about whether or not we, as kids, deserved presents on Christmas day. I’m not slamming my parent’s at all, it just wasn’t a big conversation we had ever had as children.
What am I talking about? I’m not even all that sure, to be honest. This is just something that started eating at me last night. Legoman lost his first tooth yesterday and he made a comment right before he went to sleep that had me immediately correcting him and then reflecting on that small snippet of conversation half the night. Now, before I relay the conversation for you, I want to make one thing clear: he doesn’t really believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny. This kid is logical to a fault. And I made a promise to myself when he was born that I would never lie to him. When he asks me point-blank whether any of those characters exist in real life, I give him the history behind each of them and explain to him that although they aren’t actually real, the spirit they portray most certainly is. The spirits of giving, hope, renewal, and radical imagination are all very, very real – and that he should keep a hold of them his entire life.
So this is how it went: Legoman: “I hope the tooth fairy gives me $20.00.”
Me: *Snort* “The tooth is not going to give you $20.00 for a tooth, love.”
Legoman: “But she has to, it’s my first tooth.”
Me: “No hun, if you get money for your tooth, it’s a gift. You don’t get a gift because you lost a tooth. You might get a gift because you took good care of that tooth, but if that changes, next time you may not get anything.”
**Disclaimer: For his first tooth, he did receive his favorite candy bar and $1.00 – as a treat. This will not be the norm.
I thought about this conversation for a while and I came to this conclusion: I will not teach my child that just because he loses a tooth, it’s Christmas, Easter, or even his birthday, that he’s entitled to receiving gifts. Those are things he has to earn throughout the year, and those privileges can be pulled if he doesn’t act like a decent human being. Those are not things he is entitled to, those are not things he should expect if he doesn’t treat his world and the people in it with the respect they deserve. On the whole he is a great kid, and I normally don’t have many issues in this department, but should the day come that I do, he’s aware that the outcome might be no presents for this holiday or that. I am also teaching him that giving really is more fun than receiving.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. And I’m not into the whole: blow vast amounts of cash on these gifts. The gifts I give are meant to mean something to the receiver, something special. But we don’t, nor have I ever, thought that more is better. On the contrary, meaning is more. And although Legoman might only receive two or three gifts from me personally, these are things I know he would enjoy immensely and that will last a while.
On another note: the one thing I really do love about Christmas is one of my favorite movies – The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s been one of my favorites since childhood and this Christmas I am introducing Legoman to it for the first time. He will be a Harry Potter, Tim Burton, Indie music kind of kid. There is magic in the world and I plan on introducing him to some of the heroes of my life that brought the magic alive.