Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm not raising little Christmas assholes, thank you very much

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this afternoon I came across an article from GMA, "Christmas Wish List From 1915 Will Make You Feel Materialistic".

It details an endearing little Christmas list written by an endearing little boy in 1915; he's so endearing he wished for nuts and candy.

As the title promised, I did expect to feel materialistic as I read the list because really, that's what everyone assumes these days: that every parent over-indulges their kid and that by consequence every child is a whiny, selfish brat, more intent on acquiring the latest gadget than on taking a moment to appreciate the fact that he or she actually has it pretty good. 

I mean, because my husband and I have enough money to get our children more than they need to survive, I should feel materialistic, right? If my kid has 15 things on his Christmas list instead of one (and one of them isn't nuts or candy) I've failed somehow, right GMA?


Plain and simple, this article is stupid. 

You cannot effectively gauge the merit of someone's character by what's on his or her Christmas list. My father grew up wearing cardboard in his shoes and as he tells it, his Christmas list was 10 pages long because there was so much more he dreamed of having—clothes, toys, food and a better house. And he asked Santa for all of it. 

When I was a kid, I sat down beside the Christmas tree with the Sears catalog—which in 1980 was about 500 pages thick—and dog earred 200 pages of it. In my working class household, it was a gift in itself to imagine that Santa might bring me everything my heart desired. Circling those toys was magical because I got to live in a few moments of "what if?" Much like we feel when we play the lotto. What if I had enough money to buy anything I wanted? What if there was no limit to my desires?

I imagine that a lot of children—many of whom have seen parents laid off, their hours at work reduced or their health benefits reduced—have eagerly sat down with the Toys "R" Us catalog and felt the same way.

This isn't to say that some children aren't overindulged. Clearly, that's a given. We've gotten too good at pacifying our children with stuff instead of giving them what really matters: our quality time, our undivided attention and the word "no." But to proclaim that you should feel ashamed because your child has an extensive Christmas list, well, that's just bullshit. 

Here's Everett's list (he's three; my six year old, Junior, drafted it for him):

He wants apple juice, milk and a Lego set. And Junior? He would also like a Lego set, as well as some surprises. They're good kids. In fact, for Junior's "What I'm thankful for" list for Thanksgiving, he wrote that he is thankful for life, freedom, animals and his parents. 

So listen here GMA: Not all kids are greedy assholes and not all parents are doing a shitty job raising their brood. There are a lot of families struggling to keep the magic of Christmas alive despite the natural disasters, the lying politicians, Obamacare, the lay offs, the cost of gas, the Kardashians, climate change and the high divorce rate. We're fighting against everything you feed us and expect us to digest. 

Don't admonish us as we do it, ok?


Patty Woodland said...

I think it's become fashionable to assume such. I think you nailed it - Santa is about dreaming. I wish I could have a lot of things but it doesn't make me a rotten person.

I love that cute

FoN said...

I think the greedy little monster thing does apply to some kids, but not mine. Or yours. So high-five on that action.

Leanne said...

Yay! I agree. And yes, we all need to dream - especially kids and especially at this time of the year. Welcome back too! :)

Keely said...

Christmas and Santa means all those usual rules don't apply. My kid can ask for the moon, and I can buy him the moon if it's on sale because it makes ME feel good to give him things. The rest of the year I have to be a big killjoy so he *doesn't* turn out like a greedy little asshole, so just let me be Santa without guilt!

Keely said...

Also, welcome back, did I mention that?

Mandy- Read. Write. Mom! said...

So great to see a post from you!

This brought back great memories of looking at those Sears catalogs growing up. I was always so excited when they came in the mail.

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