We are Catholic moms who follow the basic tenets of Attachment Parenting. We are different personalities; we're not clones, so you should see some varying opinions on different subjects. Join us as we continue on this exciting ride known as Catholic Mothering!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Child view of Christmas

We are a Santa family. Before I go further, I must stress that we celebrate Christmas as Jesus Christ’s birthday. We light luminaria candles, read the Nativity story for weeks beforehand, and make a cake for Jesus’ birthday. Yet we also put cookies and milk out for Santa, track him down on radar, and yes, we also give presents from Santa and on really, really bad days, I threaten to give the old man a call, updating him on the rugrats’ behavior at home.

My 6 year old has had a rough year behavior-wise. My husband and I have been up in arms over how to nip this behavior in the bud before it blooms into something much worse and harder to correct. I admit, I had toyed with the idea of letting Santa know about her and she wouldn’t get any presents from him. After all, the whole idea is that a child gets presents when they are good. The kicker came when my daughter made the flip statement a few days before Christmas, “Santa will give me toys even when I’m really, really bad” (because that’s what he’s done in the past).

By no intentional means, while shopping, I realized that this 6 year old was only going to get two presents from Santa while her two sisters received three. I toyed (pun intended!) with the idea of leaving it be and letting her realize the difference and trying to help her figure out why. So the day before Christmas Eve, I wrapped all the presents with a slightly guilty conscience. After all, I was probably an evil devil to my mother while growing up and I never had limits up on Santa’s gift giving. And I turned out okay, right?

So I left it be and we went about our usual Christmas Eve celebration by visiting our extended family. My 6 year old surprised me with her very cheerful, obedient behavior. She sang the loudest and loveliest for the family, her trademark “Away in a Manger”. She even asked Santa, who made a special stop at the house, if she could help him out in any way and even asked for an extra candy cane for her uncle, who had to disappear to the store just before Santa came. She oooh-ed and aaah-ed over her cousins’ and sisters’ gifts and helped pick up wrapping paper until I insisted she start opening up her stash. She extended very gracious thank-yous to the gift-givers without prompting. She even ate her Christmas Eve dinner! When we came home, she spread reindeer food out on the lawn in the bitter cold with her dad, helped him light the luminaria candles, and helped me tuck in her younger sisters for bed.

Christmas Day morning, we saw similar behavior. She was well behaved during mass and followed along without prompting. She was wonderful when she opened up her presents from Santa and her siblings and from Mom and Dad. She never made mention of the discrepancy in presents to anyone and I wondered if she even noticed. It wasn’t until we were leaving the in-law’s house where we celebrated when my 4 year old started pouting in the van. “What’s wrong, babe?” I asked. “I didn’t get everything I wanted” came the reply. Before I could respond, my 6 year old admonished her sister “Hey! There are children in this world who don’t get anything and it’s not because they weren’t good for Santa. Sometimes kids don’t have enough food or a warm house to live in. I didn’t get as many presents as you and Emily from Santa and you don’t hear me crying. You should be happy with what you have and thank God for that.”

It brought tears to my eyes. All this time I’ve been worried about her and what kind of road we were on with her behavior and attitude. These past two days have showed me that perhaps I’ve been worrying too much about what might happen when she gets older and should have had confidence in God to help out when I need Him. It’s either that my daughter really understands what’s important in life or maybe it was that she was kissing up to Santa. I’m going to go with the former (for now).

Blessings for a wonderful Christmas season and wishes of peace on Earth to all.