The holidays are a great reminder that we have much to celebrate. In our house, we do our best to honor both our backgrounds: proudly hanging our menorah ornaments from our freshly-cut blue spruce.
After 8 nights of celebratory gelt, latkes, presents and candles, we will cap it all off with Santa’s surprises under the tree. I can’t wait for our little guy to see Santa’s footprints in the snow (trade secret: it’s actually my husband’s boot prints in baking soda). I can’t wait for him to open his gifts and I can’t wait for him to see that Santa ate his cookies.
Fun as it is, I feel a bit conflicted about the commercialism. All the lavish attention, the gifts and goodies. At this point, my little guy is easy to please. He loves unwrapping presents as much as he likes the presents themselves.
Still, I wonder how we can keep the wonder and make sure the holidays don’t become a time of greediness, gimmees and wish lists.
“My colleagues and I call it taming the temptation monster,” says Dr. Laura Saunders, clinical psychologist at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living.
She points out there is temptation for parents and children alike at this time of year.
“It’s tempting to overcompensate with gifts when we feel like we work too much. But parents need to know it’s our job to temper that.” says Dr. Saunders.
“The danger of giving too much is that your kids don’t learn to give back. If you only learn to receive – that can create a very ego-centric and self-centered child.”
“The beauty of gift giving is that it’s an exchange. We have to remind our kids of that,” Dr. Saunders says. “It doesn’t have to be about getting things, but more about giving, about doing something nice for someone and helping out.”
That truly is the spirit of the season, whatever your faith. I feel sure if we can teach my son that then we have given him a gift that lasts a lifetime.