I can’t remember any of the gifts that I received for Christmas as a child. Unless of course you count the year I got the radio that I still have kicking around the house somewhere. But I know why I remember it and not others. (Long story…) I believe there might also have been a wagon full of blocks? Not sure. And while I am certain that I always received and anticipated gifts, it is the magic that preceded and surrounded them that I remember: our living room transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland with a tree full of candles that were lit while we sang carols in the kitchen waiting to be summoned. A special Christmas Eve supper that was the same each year followed by a reading of the Christmas story. Playing games until the wee hours of the morning.
The purchasing of Christmas gifts however, has always and continues to fill me with anxiety. There are so many competing narratives that are invoked at this time of year that always have me carefully navigating the distance between Santa and Scrooge, religion and secularism, scarcity and abundance, intention and expectation. I now understand the “grumpiness” that enveloped my father in the weeks preceding Christmas as I know he was as conflicted as I am this time of year. In the end, I have learned to do what he did, submit myself to the comfort and joy of the traditions and make a firm budget to govern all forms of giving.
David Jardine posted a wonderful article on his site this week entitled “I Love the Terror in a Mother’s Heart” that I believe helps to explain the market forces that attempt to use anxiety to lure us in both as parents and teachers as we try so hard to do what is good for our children and students. As we consider the many options of gifts that may support passions, interests and learning I believe ultimately it is the things that we do together without fail that become the greatest gifts. Sing some songs, eat some great food, share some wonderful stories and have a wonderful holiday season!
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