Our local news ran a segment on how to let the kids know this might be a somewhat less jolly Christmas. As I watched, I found myself growing more and more dismayed. Most of the advice was subterfuge.
Buy them lots of little presents. Lots of $1 and $5 things. So, you know, they still get open fifteen thousand boxes…start a co-op with other parents…enlist Grandma and Grandpa to buy-buy-buy for you, and you’ll pay them back when things improve…
You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me!
Now, I’ll admit that in terms of how many toy boxes they get to open, this Christmas will go just like every other Christmas for the Denizens. I hand each of them a toy catalog and a pen, and they get to circle up to ten things they want.
They will get two of those things, maybe three if what they’ve chosen is inexpensive enough.
They’ll also get some clothes, clothes they need. This is another part of the segment I found disturbing: How to “trick” your kid into “accepting” something “practical” as a “present.”
Sorry. That was way too many quotes. It’s just that the whole concept seemed so unreal to me that…it had to have “quotes” telling you that it wasn’t “really” what they were “saying.”
My kids always get clothes for Christmas. And they don’t question that they are presents, and darned good ones, too. Granted, I’m not boxing up the new underwear and pretending it’s the best gift, ever! or anything crazy like that…but hey. Boo Bug has been pestering me for weeks, months even, about wanting a new nightgown.
She’s going to be super excited to get two warm, fluffy nightgowns with matching slippers and headbands, no less! under the tree at Christmas.
But the thing that bothered me the most was the whole feeling of the segment, which was basically, “How to fool your kid into thinking that nothing is wrong.”
Here’s a novel concept: How about sitting down, looking them right in their earnest little eyeballs, and telling them the truth, instead of trying to create a kind of bubble around them, a Perfect World in which there is no struggle, no worry, no mounting debts and unemployment and crazy?
You don’t have to dump the full horror into their little laps, mind you. I’m not going to tell my kids this is the worst economy I’ve seen in my adult life, that I’m actually a bit frightened about how it will all play out in the end, that even my hopeless optimism is having a hard time seeing a “quick turnaround” here.
But I did tell them that I’ve been looking for work a long, long time now – and have found nothing. That daddy’s job ended, and he’s just starting a new one and doesn’t have a lot of hours yet. That money is really tight, and that we need to be very smart and careful about how we spend it.
I told them another truth, too: We will be OK, in the end. No matter what, we will be OK.
Even if we end up living in an apartment with grouchy neighbors all around us, we’ll be OK.
The house doesn’t matter. The clothes don’t matter. The toys don’t matter.
And we will be just fine.
Big hugs, everybody.
Now, go pick up your danged socks and do your homework and do not make me say it again!
I say this with love, my darlings, I say this with love…
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