It’s that time of year again, time for the colorful lights and decorated trees and even the exchange of presents, but what is Christmas? A lot of people focus on the religious aspect of the holiday as that’s what has been advertised and promoted over and over again. However, this season is more than just decorating trees and getting gifts, it comes from an old tradition from the pagans who celebrated winter solstice. There are many holidays in the month of December from Hanukkah to Christmas and even Kwanzaa.
I grew up celebrating Christmas as the tradition of when baby Jesus was born, I do somewhat believe in parts of that but as I got older I started celebrating Christmas for another reason. It’s not about getting gifts or Santa or any of that. The season of Christmas is a time to give back to others, to help and celebrate not only the people in your family and community but those who may be less fortunate than yourself. I hate to see people be so greedy especially this time of year. I mean we should all give back year round but during this time of year people think only of themselves and it’s all about gimmie, gimmie, gimmie.
I have 4 kids, between the ages of 5 and 9. They love Christmas like any other kid, they love the decorations, the cookies, Santa, elves, etc. I have always tried to teach them it’s better to give than to receive. They are still young but I try to teach them what is right and what is wrong. They help buy and make gifts for others and we deliver or mail them to friends, family and people that I know may not have very much for their own kids around this time. As my parents did for others when I was little. I have always tried keeping Santa very simple because a kid doesn’t understand why Santa brings their friend a new iPad and yet they get socks.
Most parents just want to give their kids the best and some don’t realize what they are doing but others do. There are some who buy their kids over 50 presents and others who get a simple 5 or 6. This year my kids will get 5 gifts each from Santa. They get 2 small items that were maybe $5 and then one bigger item that was $15 and then the other 2 gifts are clothes. Their stockings will have socks, gloves, and maybe some candy but not a lot. That’s just how I do it, one reason is because they don’t need a lot of stuff from Santa as they get gifts from grandparents and such but some kids don’t have that and Santa is all they got so I can understand the thinking that some parents have.
Others are all about showing up people by buying expensive toys for the kids to make themselves seem better than others. For example, last year my daughter got a $200 Barbie house and several other pricey toys from her stepmother who is basically trying to buy the kids love. It didn’t bother me as the gifts they get from them stay at their house but it was brought up during a therapy session about how I tried to upstage them at Christmas by giving my kid something better than they did. Sad thing is all I did was give my daughter a $10 ITunes card, a outfit and some fuzzy socks. I spent $20 on her and yet that was be supposedly showing them up.
People forget that giving is a two-way street, getting is not. They want others to give to them but they do not want to give back. I don’t give things to people just to get something back, I give because I want to, because I care and I enjoy the feeling that I get when I give something to someone else. Most of the time when I give a gift to someone I will not tell them who it’s from. I have sent many gifts through the mail with no return address just because I didn’t want the person to feel obligated to send me something in return. Giving to other is satisfying enough without receiving something back. All I ask for when I give to others is that if they are able to I want them to pass on the love. I was once in a position where I couldn’t buy my kids gifts for Christmas, I wrapped up old toys I found at yard sales or the goodwill stores. I couldn’t afford to buy them new toys that were all fancy and shiny.
One year when my oldest who is now 9 was 4 a friend of mine brought me a big bag that had several gifts for all 3 kids at the time as well as a gift for me. I was so shocked that I started crying and kept saying I would pay her back, but her exact words to me were, “When you get a chance and are able, I want you to pay it forward.” So to this day I give the same message to people that I send stuff to. Just like if I am in line at say Wendy’s I will sometimes pay for the people behind me and the message I give the Cashier is to tell them to Pay it forward.
We should all pay it forward, even those who feel they have nothing to give, leading an ear to a sad friend, or helping someone carry their groceries, anything can help. We never know what people are going through and the smallest gesture could put a smile of anyone’s face. This time of year is very hard on people, show love and kindness no matter where you go. The world is full of enough hate, why not spread some joy and cheer.