When I was a child, my family didn’t have very much money. My dad worked many, many hours a week to provide for our needs. I wouldn’t call us poor. I never went without clothing or food. The strength of family was of utmost importance. We did things as a family that didn’t cost money, but it created strong bonds and wonderful memories. We would go to a state park and have picnics and discuss the beauty of a secluded creek or a milky-red sunset. Even an unexpected thunderstorm, didn’t stop our picnic from taking place in the car, talking about how incredible and powerful a storm could be and laughed about how my dad’s ears stuck out when his hair was wet.
Birthdays and holidays were always great. I didn’t get all of my wishes, but I was loved very much. I was surrounded by love. As a child and teenager, I didn’t realize the magnificent gift I was given. It wasn’t the “things” in life. It was the atmosphere. I remember a Christmas when my main gift was a new basketball and a birthday when I received a box of football trading cards. My parents didn’t going into debt, attempting to make sure that my sister and I had what all of the other kids were getting. Sure, I wanted the latest Star Wars toy or cool bike that changed gears, but not getting something is often a lesson that isn’t taught enough; therefore, we raised generations of children who become adults, drowning in debt, because that must have something immediately.
The erosion of expressing love has been accelerated by equating it with gifts. The price parents are paying in the long term is way more than monetary. I am a parent. I have fallen into that trap many times, but it takes discipline to tell your children no or limit the amount of gifts they receive. Now, that I am an adult, I was almost embarrassed the other day when my wife asked me about Christmas for me, and I mentioned a remote control helicopter. You know, the little one that the dude at the mall is always flying around. I always wanted something like that as a kid. I think that it would be fun to play with. My wife smiled and said maybe. My wished list to Santa wasn’t ignored. It was just delayed. Maybe, she said.