Check out the headline of the article below:How inappropriate for those poor little kiddies!
Okay, I know the article is really about how to explain to kids why they're not each getting their individual Wii because Mommy did a little too much investing in the real estate market...No, it doesn't actually say that - just that kids may be disappointed in their gifts this year due to parents' inability to shell out the massive cash in order to buy their love. Hmm...still it's not as detailed as that. Maybe I should've written this article?
Anyway, here is a link to the full article, if anyone is interested in letting the kids down easy: http://www.ajc.com/services/content/atlanta-holiday-guide/stories/2008/12/04/talking_to_kids_holiday.html
***Warning - this is the part where my Catholic upbringing and beliefs become very apparent. If you will be offended by any religious content, don't bother reading any further.***
In all seriousness, although the article does have some good suggestions, I don't agree with all of it, but that may be due to my religious upbringing. I think my biggest problem with it is that it completely ignores the true meaning of Christmas.
If you can't afford the pricy demands of your children, why not simply bring the season back to its roots and explain the reason that we celebrate in the first place? Tell the story of Jesus's birth (you don't have to wait for Christmas Day to do this), and celebrate Advent (which is 4 weeks of preparing for the arrival of our Lord). Also teach the kids about Epiphany (the day the wise men arrived bearing gifts, and also the end of the 12 days of Christmas), which is January 6th.
How about explaining the origins of Santa with your children. Saint Nicholas was a Catholic Bishop whose acts of charity for those in need was legendary. Here are some links to more info on the Saint: Saint Nicholas, Ways to Honor St. Nick, St. Nicholas Center. There's also a children's book that can help to convey the origins of Santa to young children: The Real Story of Santa Claus
Originally, honoring Saint Nicholas by giving gifts to others was centered around his feast day, December 6 (tomorrow!), not Christmas. The gift giving has since migrated across the calendar a bit to Christmas Day, and in transit has spiralled way out of control. Maybe the state of the current economy is affording us (as a society) with the opportunity to teach our children what is really important - not money and material goods, but love, family, support and charity. This is the perfect time to start, as there are so many people now in need. We can also teach children the difference between wants and needs, while still having a happy Christmas. Instill in them the belief that Christmas is about giving, not receiving. It's about sharing our joy and happiness. After all, on Christmas, God gave us the greatest gift of all.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to stop giving the children gifts - not at all. Just don't max out any credit cards to satisfy their every whim. There's no need to fall into debt for anything that isn't a necessity. But something does not have to be expensive to be a good gift or to be appreciated. And we need to stop judging our own worth based on what others have. We need to stop raising self-centered brats with feelings of entitlement. Buy what you can afford. One day your kids will have to go out and earn a living, and if they have always had everything handed to them, they will not be prepared to support themselves.
And since that's probably a bit in the future, right now maybe we should just tell them that Saint Nick had to focus on the families that were truly in need this year, and your family is already blessed with what you have. (I do believe I heard this from my own single income, 4 child family in my younger days, and I managed to survive!)
As for Santa Claus, let the kids keep believing. I do.