A few years ago, my husband and I basically mortgaged our home to buy Christmas. I was so overwhelmed with my to-do list (Christmas cards to write, food to prepare, pictures to take and parties to throw) that I decided a quantity Christmas was more important than a quality one. I knew my kids HAD to have that Tickle Me Elmo and Talking Bubba. What kind of parent was I if I didn't get the kids what they wanted so badly?
Now, years later, the toys we bought that Christmas are broken and forgotten. The $300 Talking Bubba that was the "toy of the year" sits silent in a corner. Only the debt remains to remind me that I actually mortgaged my soul along with my house. And I am not alone.
Retailers have added to the frenzy of spending this year with toys that cost as much as a monthly car payment. One-hundred-dollar-plus "must have" toys are hitting the shelves with the force of goldbricks as consumers begin their holiday shopping. Even stores with a reputation for discount pricing, such as K-Mart, are featuring toys with a price tag of $100 or more. Scalpers have bought up many of the hot toys for this year, including Furby, and are now selling them on the Internet for a huge profit over the already high price. What are YOU willing to spend to see that your child gets one of these?
That year of the mortgaging was a turning point in my mind. I spent the next two years searching for the true meaning of Christmas -- and found it in rituals, traditions and the feeling of brotherly love.
Some people would still argue that Christmas is a celebration of commercialism, that Santa Claus has displaced the Christ child in our hearts at this time of year. They may experience the celebrations, fun and excitement but never make the connection to what it means.
How can we expect to teach our children the reason for the season, when we are bombarded with advertisements that teach the "Gimme's" instead of the spirit of giving? Here are some thoughts: