Musings on Materialism, the Day After Christmas…

Whenever somebody asked my child what she wanted for Christmas she answered ‘a surprise’. I felt all glowey about this – not least because this response was not coached in any way, it came totally from her.Gauri and Anya opening prezzies

But now she has us scratching our heads, wondering how we can preserve this open-heartedness in her. How do we keep it from turning into the greed, materialism and acquisitiveness that so often comes with Christmas? She is (nearly, nearly) 3 now.

We plan to continue to focus on family, good food and the feeling of love and connection rather than on ‘things’. Will that be enough, I wonder?…

I can’t help but think that cultivating the ‘Christmas spirit’ of giving, gratitude and gracefulness is not about what we do one day a year, what we give her or don’t give her on the 25th of December, what we say when she opens a gift or how we respond to her reactions as she discovers what ‘santa’ brought her… I suspect it is our attitude toward having rather than being all year round, that counts. That is what shapes who she is and how she feels about herself and whether or not she thinks she needs stuff.

A friend of mine said once that she likes to give her kids whatever they want so that they grow up feeling abundant and that whatever they want is within their reach. She comes from kind of new-agey stock :)  (as do I, but we see this one differently…) I actually think it is the opposite. The more we cultivate contentedness and gratitude for what we already have the more ‘abundant’ we feel in our hearts and in our lives.

— — —

How about you – what little or big things have you been doing to combat the ‘holidays = gifts’ and the ‘more, bigger, better’ mentality that surrounds our kids this time of year?


12 thoughts on “Musings on Materialism, the Day After Christmas…

  1. Pingback: Grateful Musings | afternoonstorm

  2. One of the things I have tried to emphasize is that we give presents at birthdays and Christmas not because she’s been “good” but because we love her — and that she’s good because God made her, and that doing what is right and good is its own reward.

    This year I was pleased to see her take initiative to make and wrap presents — drawings, sketchpads full of drawings — to give in stockings, under the tree, and to special friends.

    • That is awesome – that she took to making her own presents, etc. and it sounds like it was spontaneous and naturally coming from her. How lovely!! You must have modeled it and showed your enthusiasm for it, frequently, I am guessing. :)

      And, yes, we also do not do the presents because you are ‘good’ thing, of course, not at all! Our love is unconditional as are our Christmas presents. We give them because it is a traditional time to exchange gifts, because it is fun and because there is something really especial about ‘honouring’ the other in this way; about seeing and being seen, having someone know us that well and the joy of showing someone else we know them, love them and can make some good guesses at what will bring them joy! We don’t need Christmas to do this but it is a fine excuse and a cultural festivity we chose to join in on.

      Hugs to you and thanks for sharing!

      • People keep making comments about the goodness thing — “were you good this year?” “you must have been really good to get all those presents” that sort of thing. So I’m trying to counter that. It’s so entwined with the Santa stories, too.

        I’m not sure where her gift-giving comes from — she’s often making drawings and giving them to people — or people come over and she takes things she’s made before and offers them. She adores heartily — I do, too. It’s hard!

      • Hard, I believe you… but also beautiful! To be open-hearted is a gift – just one we need to learn to use in a way that serves us (more than it drains us), in my opinion. It definitely sounds like you are doing something right to preserve the magic of giving in her, so trustingly. I do believe all kids are born givers. I mean, at age 1 all kids toddle over and give us stuff. They may want it back in the next moment was the first impulse was to share it with us :)

  3. My sons received gift cards for quite a bit of money at Toys R Us from their grandparents. Before going to the store to pick out the gifts they wanted, I made a point to take a moment to look around and talk about how fortunate that we have all of the toys we already have, to remember those who don’t have money for new toys, and to feel grateful that someone was thinking of them to give them the gift cards with money that they earned. Our trip to the toy store was so peaceful and they were very intentional and grateful for the couple items they picked out. We then spent part of the next day going through their old toys to select those they didn’t play with anymore to donate to Goodwill. We do other things throughout the year, but I wanted to be very clear about giving and receiving, gratitude and charity during this time of year.

  4. I and my guys appeared to be checking out the best ideas on the website and so instantly got an awful suspicion I never thanked the web site owner for them. My boys were as a consequence joyful to learn all of them and now have really been taking pleasure in these things. Thanks for turning out to be indeed kind and then for making a decision on this sort of cool useful guides most people are really desirous to learn about. Our own sincere apologies for not saying thanks to earlier.

  5. We struggle with this too. Our daughter will be three by next Christmas and so far we’ve been able to get away with not asking her what she wants for Christmas. She loves surprises so much that anything we get her thrills her. This past year she helped my husband and I pick out each others’ gifts and we also had a talk about donating some of her old toys to charity before she gets new presents. (In practice I ended up cleaning out a bunch of stuff while she was at school, but she has not once asked about where those toys have gone.) It’s a difficult balance, especially since we don’t want to do Santa so a lot of people automatically see us as Grinches.

  6. Aah, yes, rotating or even thinning out toys is a great exercise, ime. I try and do it with my daughter when I can: letting her chose what to tidy away for a season, what to keep out to play with and what to donate… but still the amount of stuff we have got is creeping out of control a little, again. Time for another big clean out, me thinks. :p

    And, isn’t it amazing how much kids just love unwrapping stuff. It doesn’t need to be new stuff, that is the secret. My kid has been playing Easter Bunny ever since Easter now. She just loves the whole ritual: put stuff in eggs, hide eggs, find eggs… open them up and be surprised and delighted by what is in them (even though you stuffed them yourself) EVERY SINGLE TIME! Got to love kids and the pleasure they derive from such simple things. Again… how best to preserve that? I think appreciating it and ‘feeding’ it whenever possible is the start!

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