Fight Christmas Greed!
In 1996, the must-have toy for Christmas was “Tickle Me Elmo”. This toy became such a popular item that stores were sold out of them in record time, and a few enterprising persons began selling their Tickle Me Elmos in classified ads. One news report stated that one of these toys had sold through classified ads for over $1 000. A toy that retailed for around $30 US, had been bought at a ridiculously inflated price by a desperate parent eager to fulfill his or her child’s Christmas wish list. This trend has continued up to today, with Christmas advertisements beginning earlier and earlier every year. The list of “must-have” toys grows longer and longer. What do we as parents do in the face of this onslaught of materialism aimed deliberately at our children?
It’s a rare child who is able to understand the value of the toys he or she receives at Christmas time. In most cases, it’s easy come, easy go. There’s a good chance the toy you stood hours in line for, will be broken, forgotten and discarded by the time Christmas dinner is served. Perhaps your child has looked around at the pile of new toys, clothes and books he’s just unwrapped in an excited frenzy and said, “Is there more?” It may be time to re-emphasize the true of meaning of Christmas to your kids, and to encourage them towards giving rather than getting.
- Tell the story: Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ who came into the world to save mankind from sin. Teach this fundamental truth to your children, and thus focus their attention on the real meaning of Christmas.
- Give: Donate a new toy, gift or food through a local church or charity and involve your kids in the process. Whether it’s having them help to gift wrap a toy for a child in need, (or for a teen, helping out at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter ), your child may begin to appreciate how blessed he or she is to have a home and family that cares.
- Model: If you demonstrate a giving spirit all year round, your kids will model their action and attitudes off of you.
- Sacrifice: Invite your child to actually give up a gently used toy from their toy box to a less fortunate child.
- Gratitude: Remind your children to be thankful for the gifts they receive, and to thank the persons who have given them presents. Ask them to treat their gifts with care.
- Be reasonable: Your kids will be bombarded with advertisements and it may wear on your patience having to hear their constant demands. Have your kids make a shortlist of the gifts they want, (having them look through ad flyers is easier than trying to keep track of television ads.) Closer to Christmas, let them know that they will get one or two things from their shortlist.
Hopefully some of these tips will help your kids understand that Christmas is about giving, not just getting!