It Really Is All About Children
Remember the happiest you ever saw your children on Christmas morning?
Think hard. It wasn’t the year your son got his first bicycle. It wasn’t the time Santa Claus pulled off a miracle and left that expensive, impossible-to-find doll under the tree for your daughter.
It was years before that, when they were much younger.
It was the first Christmas your little one was able to give you a present.
The gift may have been something your child made in kindergarten or first grade, perhaps a tree ornament made out of pipe cleaners or construction paper. Still have it, don’t you?
Remember the delight in that tiny voice? “Mommy, mommy! I got you something!”
Remember the joy on your little girl’s face when you proclaimed how much you loved the gift? Still wish you’d had a camera handy to capture the happiness in your son’s eyes when he gave you that pair of gloves Mommy helped him pick out, don’t you?
Christmas really is all about children – but not in the way toy companies want us to believe.
A story we carried the other day reminded me of that. It was about the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge and its “Shop With a Cop” program.
Every year, the officers – and members of several other organizations – take children from needy families on Christmas shopping sprees. The kids are given some money and told to go through a store and buy whatever they want for themselves.
This year, through the Pirates Charities program, “Shop With a Cop” had a bonus for some Ohio County youngsters. Pirates players and other team celebrities accompanied some of the kids, and made a substantial donation to the program.
What struck me about the story was the mention that some of the children went looking not for gifts for themselves, but for brothers and sisters.
Children, especially those from needy families, mature earlier than we sometimes realize. They know programs such as “Shop With a Cop” may be their only chance at loading up on toys, clothing, etc., for themselves.
But these children wanted their brothers and sisters to get something nice, too.
I saw something like it with my own eyes many years ago, when I accompanied some Jaycees on a shopping trip with children. One little girl spent all her money on Christmas presents for her mother and a sibling.
That’s what she wanted most for Christmas (Jaycees members noticed what was happening, I’m pleased to report. After the little girl was finished, she was handed a few dollars more and told it could only be spent on something for her).
Babies are born selfish, we’re told. But I’ve seen very small toddlers who, as early as they were physically able to do so, smiled broadly as they gave things to adults or did little things for them.
No one had taught them such behavior was a good thing. It just came naturally.
So yes, Christmas is about children – and what they can teach us.
Myer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.