Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Thank You for Christmas?

I would have to assume that the “normal” number of Christmas celebrations to go to is 3. One with the immediate family, one with the father’s side, and one with the mother’s side. Right? We grew up having one or two because we lived so far from Mom and Dad’s family. Anyone want to guess how many my step-children went to? Drum roll please……… Count ‘em, 7. Seven, 7, siete (spell check please). Here we go.

1. Mom’s house with step-father, Matt.
2. Matt’s parents’s side
3. Matt’s grandma’s
4. Mom’s side
5. Harry’s side
6. My side
7. Our house

Now, our family did garage sale Christmas gifts, so there is a ton of stuff in these boxes. Our little Darin is going to be 5 this week, and was very concerned with when we were opening presents at all 3 places we brought him. This got tiring. He even had the nerve to say “Elmo’s stupid” after opening one of his presents with Elmo on the front. I would have NEVER had the nerve to say that! How do you help children realize they need to be thankful, or just leave it at “thank you” if you don’t like something?

Today we wrote out thank you notes to all the people we know that got them presents for Christmas, including Santa. This didn’t go so well – I guess they’ve never written a thank you note before??? So I tell Darin that he can keep anything that he remembers to thank someone for. Which means, if he doesn’t remember that Santa brought Play-Doh, he might not be able to keep it. Get the picture? I know – 7 places to get gifts – there’s no way he’d remember all that. But it was more of a “suggestion” or “make a point” thing. His went something like this. “Dear Wendy, thank you for the racecar helmet. That’s all I remember.” That box was filled with stuff! And “Thank you for all the stuff I got. I’m trying to remember……” Then he says “Is it my birthday yet?” because that means he gets to open the other two. But he doesn’t even remember what’s in them after they’re opened! So we talked about what Christmas is really about last night. And do you know the first couple of answers he gave me? "Umm, opening presents? Santa?" Then Olivia piped in and told him, which I was very grateful for. We tried to explain to him the real reason for Christmas, and why haven't we given more gifts than we've received? And that some kids don't have anything. No parents, no toys, no hugs and kisses. Then he comes back with, "So, I still don't have enough toys." I could have SCREAMED! They have a whole downstairs full of toys they haven't played with in months! I held it in very well, though. Harry and I looked at each other, like, "ahh, what do you say to that???"

Blogging friends, we are a little torn at what to do. We know their primary place to live is a very matierialistic (is that a word?) environment, so how could we have more of an influence on them? We talked about boxing up every single toy that they own and putting them in the garage – but then what? How does he earn them back? And Olivia is good about being thankful, so we don’t want to make her be inconvenienced by her brother. I think I’ll even bring back what I bought for his birthday this week and buy diapers for Tiffany, ‘cause that’s what we need. He can just get a big ol’ birthday cake. How’s that?

Tell me someone else has run into this!!!


Heth said...

You know, he's only five. You said Olivia is very thankful, and I think a lot of that has to do with age. Just last month we were mortified when Caedmon became furious when he found out that Thanksgiving doesn't equal presents.

My advice would be to continue to have them write thank you's because that is just a really good life skill to have. But don't worry too much about his greediness yet, maybe when he is 12, but not at five.

Just my 2 cents.

T said...

I'm with heth.
5 is a little early to call it too much of an issue.
When I was 5, I REALLY liked the presents... and he really isn't old enough to completely understand who Jesus is. Santa is more real to him right now, believe it or not. Just be consistent. Your consistency and immutability will eventually sink in. You're doing a great job with him.

MommyCorbie said...

You know what's funny about that? Cam and I got him the helmet. :) I'm laughing so hard right now.

I agree... age has a lot to do with it. I don't think he needs to remember exactly what he got from everyone. Especially with 7 celebrations. But - even if he doesn't like the gift, he can still say 'thank you.' If not for the gift, than for the time the giver spent picking it out for him.

How about adopting a family for Christmas next year? I know a couple of families that did this, and it was so rewarding for the parents AND the children. It taught them the importance of giving. The kids could write a letter to Santa telling him other children need the gifts more. They would still get gifts from the other family Christmas celebrations. Then, (I heard this one from someone else) you could get them each 3 small gifts - because the 3 wisemen brought a gift to baby Jesus.

Here's another thought: Children get gifts at Christmas, but the true gifts are those which God has given us. Each time they open a gift they have to name something they're thankful for... something God has given them. He is the true giver, and we must thank Him as well. Maybe when you're done with gifts you can say a prayer thanking Him for the blessings in your lives.

I know I'm rambling now. Good luck. Oh, and if it's any consolation - the kids didn't seem greedy at all.