By Rosie Preston
Author’s note: this article was submitted by Gary and Joy Burt
This is the season to be bombarded with trying to fulfill our loved one’s Christmas wishes. It is a wonderful time of year and I love to buy gifts, especially for the children. Most kids request what they have seen or heard about and will entertain them for a while. The true meaning of Christmas is often lost as we spend money on gifts. Instead of what money can buy, what is it that children need?
Years ago, when my two children were very young, my neighbor explained to me how her family handled Christmas and gifts. She had a very large family, and it would have been impossible to buy gifts for everyone. So, she and her husband took what money they saved all year and divided it by the number of family members, and that was the amount of money spent on each person.
My neighbor had two children and limited the gift of toys to one for each child. I wondered if her children felt deprived, but by the time they got back from their family celebration, they were loaded with gifts!
As I’ve gotten older, I never forgot my neighbor’s words. It released me from trying to get my children too much and often left family members out. I also have enough years behind me to know how quickly the newness of a gift wears off. Have you heard about children playing with the empty boxes rather than the gifts inside them? It happens.
Children need and deserve your emotional and spiritual support, along with the necessities of housing, clothing and transportation. How many hours do we spend a week taking our families here and there all year long?
It is never too late to tell our children in spoken and unspoken communication the messages they are longing to know. This includes, “We are glad you are in our family. There is nothing you have to do to be loved. You are important to me. Your needs and desires are important. You are loved for just being you! I have always loved to touch you and feel the love. The family is more complete because you are in it.”
During this holiday season, don’t forget to share your energy and words with your loved ones. As I look back on my life as a parent, there are a million things that I wish I’d done differently. I wasn’t a perfect parent and my children weren’t perfect. But I want to remind them of how much God loves us, and even though I can’t imagine eternity, I tell them that God’s love for us is eternal. What keeps our family together most of all is constant forgiveness followed by lots of love.
Merry Christmas and keep smiling, Rosie