As we head into the Christmas season I try to remember that the most important thing that children want from us is our time. I have seen this as a parent, as a teacher and as an observer. Children crave our attention.
Sometimes I think that the time my children spend telling me what they want for Christmas is just time they get to spend with me, having my full attention on them. When we were all younger we would practice writing letters to Santa or making lists of presents wanted and then sit around talking about what we would do with all these gifts. This is no different from the time we spent throughout the year day dreaming about what we would do if we won the lottery (somewhat impossible since I don’t play it). We would dream about horses, motorbikes, mansions, trips to Europe and Australia, and other fanciful things.
I have never been one for consumerism. I prefer to make meaningful presents or buy one good thing that my children really want. I have also never had a ton of money to spend on presents but I have saved up to get them those things that they really dreamed about having, sometimes working with others to get them. The one thing I have always attempted to do was spend time WITH them. Talking, daydreaming, playing and even using the box children love more than the present to build really cool forts with. These things mean so much more than the latest toy craze.
I lost my father last year, I miss him dearly, and I have many memories of him to keep me smiling. One thing I remember is that he would do special crazy things with me. For a birthday one year he blew up (with his own breath) hundreds of balloons and hung them from the ceiling of our cabin to be let loose when I blew out the candles on my cake. He would always let me stay up to listen to the old time radio stories from a radio channel all the way from LA. Every year we would go hunt down our Christmas tree, usually very “Charlie Brownish” and decorate it together. He would build forts with me, make me cardboard castles, and tell me stories about Bongo and me each night. This time spent together means so much more to me than any object he ever got me.
This Christmas season spoil your children with time. Try a new kid friendly recipe to bake together, dream up a fun event, or build a fort with a box. These will be the memories that children hang onto the longest.