Growing up my family, particularly my parents, tried their hardest to make sure we kids had a great Christmas. They always got us what we wanted. I remember one Christmas I had asked my Grandparents for The Little Mermaid bed sheets to which my Grandma happily obliged. Too bad for her I made these sheets up in my head. The Little Mermaid had been out for years and these bed sheets were nowhere to be found. All I remember is opening that present on Christmas day and seeing those glorious sheets I envisioned. To this day I couldn’t tell you what exactly these sheets looked like. What I can tell you is that those sheets are long gone.
Now that I have children, I am constantly thinking of stories like this. What do I want my kids to remember? Do I want them to remember what gift they asked for, and eventually got rid of? Or do I want them to remember what others have done for them? How others made them feel? How they made others feel? The holidays can be a constant struggle for me with my kids. I am not very far into this parenting journey, only 22 months, truth be told. However, I can already feel myself going “too far.”
What is too far, might you ask? To me it’s too many materialist possessions. Why do I need to buy my son 10 Thomas The Trains? Is it because he wants 10, or is it because I want to see his face light up 10 times? If I am being honest, it’s the latter. I am sure my parents and grandparents did the same thing at times. Did my grandma give me the sheets to see my face light up? Maybe.
In hindsight she probably knew that even though my grandparents were physically giving me bed sheets, they were giving me so much more. They were giving me the memory of conversations with my grandparents about things I liked. They were giving me the memory of time spent with family. They were giving me the memory of the pure love they had for me. I still have no idea how she found them, this was pre-internet times, and I just know that she and my mom spent months looking for this just because I asked.
Now, I am not about to go out and get everything my kids ask for but I will get them a few things they ask for. My husband and I have long ago agreed that the kids will each get one small gift from Santa and one bigger joint gift from us. I fully plan on riding this train as long as possible but I also do not want to miss out on seeing the joy on my kids face and the little giggles of delight when they open their presents. My parents don’t know this but when I open gifts, I always watch them as I do. I see how happy it makes them seeing me happy in any way. It’s not the physical gift they are giving me; it’s the love that pours out of them. This is what I want my kids to remember when they grow up.
Written by VHS contributor// Meg Anderson