A Christmas Message from the Heart 

As I sit here listening to Christmas music, taking a break from putting up decorations I find my mind consumed with a friends Facebook post from yesterday. It was so refreshing to read as it pulled at my heart strings revealing that I was not alone in my belief that Christmas is losing its meaning.

When I was a young child, Christmas was about families gathering together, showing their love and celebrating everything they were thankful to have. Maybe I was a naive child, teen, and young mother, but I remember a time when Christmas was not all about getting the newest best items on the market. A time when parents could afford to buy their child what was on their Christmas list; without going into debt for the upcoming year. A time when children were not greedy, selfish and demanding but just thankful for what they did receive. And a time where Christmas was not one of the most stressful times of the year, but a joyous time where people who could, would give to those less fortunate.

It’s a sad state of the world we live in today; when we no longer raise our children to understand the true meaning of Christmas. When we fail to teach them that, Christmas is the time for giving and how much more they will gain in spirit and soul; when they give rather than take. When we as parents fail our children because we are teaching them to be greedy rather than being thankful for what they do have.

I’m not saying that all parents lack providing this concept to their children, but when you look at the statistics after the Christmas season, it becomes apparent that a large majority does. When we start buying children gifts that can cost up to seven-hundred dollars or more per gift while they’re still at an age that they should be getting toys…there’s something wrong. When we start teaching our young children that gifts are only good as the price tag they carry, we can’t be dismayed to learn that they’ve become greedy teens and adults.

I can’t claim that I’ve ever understood parents who buy their children the newest gaming systems as soon as they come on the market, the best iPad or latest iPhone as Christmas gifts. I do however understand wanting your children to experience the best Christmas possible. But why does providing the best Christmas mean spending a small fortune? Do some people never take into consideration the possibility that they might lose one or both incomes in their house and won’t be able to buy the best, most expensive gifts? When you teach your children to expect the best, you can’t expect them to stop suddenly wanting the best because you’ve hit financial hardship.

That is why I’ve always believed in teaching my children to be happy with what they get. Because not only do we not have to buy them anything, but there are families in the world, heck in our town that can’t afford a Christmas dinner; let alone buying gifts. Our children understand that Christmas is about being thankful for what we do have not for what they get. When I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas this year, she told me she didn’t like asking for anything because she felt selfish – she’s 15. When I asked my son, his list included jeans, one game for his PC that’s been out a while and cheap, Pringles and a bag of Beef Jerky – he’s 17. My children know better than to ask for the newest fad on the market because afford it or not, they aren’t getting it as a gift. If they want a phone that cost seven-hundred dollars, they know they better have a job to pay for it.

As I always tell my children, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” That’s why my kids look forward to Christmas, because we’ve raised them to appreciate what they have and the true meaning of Christmas. Our Christmas day is one of our most relaxed days of the year. In a house with a high functioning autistic child, and a severely intellectually disabled, epileptic child among other stressors; on average we live an extremely hectic life. Christmas is one day of the year, where we still wake up at the crack of stupid just like any other day of the year.¬† But then we take our time and open the presents under the tree, and enjoy a nice family breakfast together. We all pitch in, in preparing the meal and the clean up afterward. The kids disappear for an hour or so to enjoy their new gifts while their father and I get to enjoy quiet time over a cup of coffee. Then we all pitch in, in making a small Christmas dinner, and while our dinner is cooking, we sit together as a family, cuddled together on the couches and have a movie marathon. We sit together over dinner and talk about anything and everything, relishing in a good meal and conversation with one another. They spend the majority of the night with us, until it’s close to bedtime before they go to their rooms to explore their gifts some more. Take away the gifts and Christmas dinner; the rest of the day is how we spend our holiday break…together as a family.

We all have a piece of mind and a happy heart knowing that before Christmas, we donate brand-new toys to the toy drive. We take a name off a tree to give gifts to the elderly, donate to the food bank, and help our elderly neighbors clean their driveways (all winter long). We do all of these things at Christmas time, but we also donate and help out those less fortunate the entire year.

Even though we have an amazingly stressful household with mentally and physically disabled children, we are still extremely thankful for what we do have. We know there are and always will be people who have it worse than we do, so even though life is a daily struggle for us, we still know what matters and that’s being with family not what family can give to us.

So it is with a deep seeded passion that I ask those who can afford it, to donate to those less fortunate than themselves this Christmas season. Teach your children the joy of being selfless by giving instead of merely receiving this holiday season, and you will give them a gift that will last a lifetime.