On the way in to work today I was having a discussion with a coworker. We were talking about Christmas shopping and all of the gifts our children will receive. We debated how much a reasonable amount of money should be spent on each child and how our spouses’ views are completely different. We have all heard that the true meaning of Christmas is “giving” but for some reason in today’s society that statement is getting lost in translation. The true meaning of Christmas is not just “giving”. It’s “giving of oneself to show someone you value them”. I don’t think an overabundance of stuff is delivering the message that our children are valued, cherished, uniquely loved. We can throw as many things, stuff and objects at someone and they may still not know how truly special they really are.
As I was sitting in the car I thought about what I remembered from my Christmas holidays, I tried to think of any of the gifts I received as a child and could not even think of one! But two distinct memories and traditions stood out like beacons in my mind encompassing my values surrounding Christmas.
The first is of my father. Every Christmas morning my brother and I would race down the stairs to see what Santa left us, but before we opened any gifts we would sit down as a family and have breakfast together in the kitchen. My dad would make Peameal Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches, serve them on a huge plate and we would share… together. We enjoyed each others company and looked forward to the day. Continuing the tradition my parents now come to my house on Christmas morning and we have PLT sandwiches together.
The other is of my grandmother. She LOVED to bake. Every Christmas she would come over to my parents and we would sit for hours making cookies. She would bake, I would decorate. It became a tradition. When I was five she was diagnosed with breast cancer, It was so far gone there was nothing they could do. The last time I saw her, I was sitting on her hospital bed with my mother and we were talking about Christmas cookies. We laughed, we cried and she made us promise that every year we would make Christmas cookies together and share that time with her as a way of remembering her and the special bond we had.
My hope is that in keeping these traditions and making our holidays focus on each other as gifts, rather than things as gifts; my children are learning to value the ones they love, focus on family and to give of themselves to others, their time, their love and their heart.