These epiphanies may need some prompting, like a greenhouse flower forced to open in the dead of winter or a gracious smile when accepting a Chia pet. While waiting for this winter wonderland of wisdom, it’s best to prepare for the few bumps you may hit along this holiday highway.
Driving home the importance of “hope” is especially important because we don’t always get everything on our Christmas list. (The braces, dermatologist and karate lessons didn’t make the cut.) We gently remind our children that Advent means “waiting” and there’s always next year or the next birthday. We hope to deter them from a scene in front of a Pastor, teacher or fellow shopper while saying, “Now I know you don’t love me!” or “I am always so good but I never get anything good!”
Speaking of good, using festive phonics can lighten up the holiday hard and soft “G” sounds. Having children use some of their own money to buy presents for loved ones demonstrates the hard “G” heard in “giving” and the soft “G” in “generosity.” To the young, this can sound like a foreign language, but with enough practice pleasing others a small fraction of the time, they’ll get hooked.
When a child discovers the truth about Santa, parents could feel guilty if they did a poor job disguising their handwriting, used the same wrapping paper for family and Santa gifts, and didn’t cut off Grandma when she complained about how hard it was to find the gift that Santa actually gave. It could also be because the Santa at the mall is so young his voice cracked, and even the 6-year-olds knew there wasn’t enough testosterone under there for a real beard. As you share the story of the real St. Nick and reveal the origin of “Santa Claus,” have lots of Kleenex handy because it’s sad for both of you when kids turn this corner.
Curbing Christmas coveting is difficult when children like a sibling’s gift better than their own. This situation goes back to Biblical times. Read them about Cain and Abel and rephrase the line “Am I my bother’s keeper?” to “That’s your brother’s keeper.” Older children might like to watch “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat” and be sure to explain that Donny Osmond’s brothers were never jealous that he was the cuter one.
Exercising good reception skills when a child opens a misfit gift shows real growth. It’s a lot easier to give the green light to returning it when they are whimpering in a private, martyr-like showing than when the recipient is red and out of breath from screaming on the floor. Teach this by example when you get a set of snow tires instead of something from “Jared.” A little self control makes for many happy returns.
A parent’s heart can grow three sizes when we see our children headed in the right direction even after they figure out Santa’s naughty or nice list isn’t real, or there’s nowhere to get a lump of coal anymore. There might be a few humbugs to workout, but it moves the dickens out of us when our children begin to grasp that’s it’s better to give than to receive.
A parent’s last Christmas epiphany is the realization that there may be extended vacations in between such moments. But, as a wise man once said, “You can’t win ‘em all.”