The Downside of the Short List of a Non-Greedy Child at Christmas

He looks real to me, too. I should have sat on his lap and asked for kitchen remodeling.

He looks real to me, too. I should have sat on his lap and asked for kitchen remodeling.

My children aren’t greedy. They can watch TV without getting sucked into the commercials—unless of course, it’s an ad for car insurance, mattresses, or some other product clearly not aimed at them. Then, I hear, “Mom! Log onto Incestory.com! It’s free!” Yeah, Incestory.com. I know you are laughing at that.

I can take them into Target or any other store and never hear, “I want.” And for Christmas, they each asked for only one present.

I’ve always felt a little proud of their non-greediness and how creative they are when it comes to creating the toys they want, but don’t have. For a very long time, my son carried around a certain super-hero action-figure who dresses in blue and red.  People would make conversation with him by asking, “Is that Superman?”

“No, it’s Batman.”

“Looks like Superman to me.”

“It’s BATMAN!”

And then, I would explain, “He really likes Batman a lot. So, to him, that’s Batman, not Superman.”

Recently, with the help of his sister, he put a red sock on a stuffed monkey’s head, pinned a piece of white paper to its chin and called it his “Santa Claus toy.” Of course, he is the same kid who refers to a “sandwich” as a “doughnut.” But really, if we all took whatever we have and just made it what we want instead of always wanting something else, wouldn’t the world be a happier place?

So, I admire these traits in my children and I encourage them, but I’m also aware—painfully aware—things could change. This time next year, I could be writing a blog entry titled My Children Are Greedy Little Monsters. I know this. So, I’m not gloating. I’m being thankful they aren’t greedy little monsters, yet.

And at Christmas-time, greed might not be a terrible thing. It might make Santa’s job a little easier. Just hear me out on this while I make a strange and simple case for greed.

Both of my children really have asked for only one thing for Christmas. My son wants the action-figures/dolls from Toy Story. He has a Buzz Lightyear, but he wants Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye. I know that’s technically three things, but I’m counting it as one because they go together. He has been very specific and consistent in this request since July. That’s what he is getting, and I’ve grimaced every time a well-meaning adult has asked him, “What else? What else is Santa going to bring you?”

“Just Toy Story toys. That’s all I want. And some candy.”

“Well, isn’t your mommy a lucky lady?”

My daughter, however, hasn’t been so consistent–and this is where a little greed would be helpful. For months, she wanted the Leap Frog Ultra. It’s certainly pricier than what her brother is getting, but at this age, Santa can get away with that. At least in our household, the kids have yet to measure the cost of things and I hope it stays that way for a long, long time. So, Santa bought and hid a Leap Frog Ultra in our attic.

Then, one day, very out-of-the-blue, she announced, “Mom, I hope Santa brings me a Barbie house.”

“A Barbie house? You never play with your Barbie. Why would you want a Barbie house?”

“Heather has one.”

“Oh, maybe Heather likes to play with Barbies. Before you ask Santa for a Barbie house, maybe you should think about what you really want.”

“Okay, maybe I want a Leap Frog Ultra, then.”

Phew. Santa crisis averted.

But then, yesterday, I finally took my children to see Santa and what did my daughter tell him she wants? A bicycle. And she was very specific—“A pink Barbie bike with training wheels that my dad can take off after I learn to ride.” This is the first and only time she has even mentioned a bike. But of course, it is such a normal request that Santa thought nothing of it. He told her that if she finds a bicycle under the tree on Christmas morning, she must promise to always wear a helmet. Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas.

“When did you decide you want a bike?” I asked her.

“While I was waiting in line to see Santa.”

“What if you don’t get a bicycle? What if Santa brings you something else? Something else you really, truly want?”

“But, Mom, I just told him I want a bike. And I think he is going to bring me a helmet, too. And I could tell that he was the real Santa.” Hmmm…he did look real. Real beard. Real boots. A shiny, golden belt-buckle with the initials “SC” on it. I bet that guy carries around a picture of Mrs. Claus and Rudolph in his wallet–or on his iPhone. I don’t know how tech-savvy this Santa is.

“Listen. I talked with Santa more than a month ago. I told him what you wanted then. At the time, you didn’t want a bike. You asked for something else. Something really, really special. So, if you don’t get a bike, you can’t be too disappointed.”

This is where a little greed would be helpful. If she had asked for a Leap Frog Ultra, a bicycle, AND a Barbie house, I could have said something like, “Sometimes, we don’t get everything we want. Santa might bring you one of those things.” Instead, we have a situation in which the one and only thing she asked for, she will not be getting. I’m hoping that upon seeing the Leap Frog Ultra, she will forget all about the bike. For now.

Really, I’d love for her to have a bike. I’m a little embarrassed that my children aren’t riding yet, but if you could see where we live…it’s not bicycle friendly, but that’s a blog topic for another time.

And now, I AM gloating. This is the Santa toy my children made. Pretty darn creative, if you ask me!

And now, I AM gloating. This is the Santa toy my children made. Pretty darn creative, if you ask me!

And I know that on a certain level this whole Santa-business is silly. That’s not what Christmas is about. I even know that some people consider it as a lie, but I really want my children to believe in Santa for now. I suspect that they will gradually figure it out on their own—as most of us do—and then, go along with it for a few more years because it is fun. I think that eventually I’ll find presents under the tree “to Mom, from Santa.” I hope so.

I want them to experience the joy of playing Santa because it is all about anonymous giving, being generous without taking credit for it. I love the idea that we all sometimes do nice things for others without acknowledgement. After all, isn’t that character? And isn’t that the kind of lesson one has to learn at home?

It will be Christmas morning in just a couple of days. Despite the fact that there will be no pink Barbie bike under the tree, I think it will be a good one.

Merry Christmas to all!

 

 

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5 thoughts on “The Downside of the Short List of a Non-Greedy Child at Christmas

  1. Lisa

    I’ve lived through many of these unwanted attacks on my parenting, (natural childbirth vs. elective c-section, breastfeeding vs.formula, sahm vs. working mom), and I know they aren’t pretty. Although my children are now 14 and 8, the warring mommies still attack. See, I have elected to (gasp) educate my children at home. For some strange reason, this is apparently, other people’s business. Even stranger, absolute strangers think it’s their business. Have you heard about that crazy proposal in Ohio? Where a gov’t worker who doesn’t even know you or your child gets to decide who gets to educate him? Insanity. I think people give unsolicited advice and opinions for the same reasons reality tv is popular, the same reasons we “rubberneck” on the highway, the same reasons we gossip about one another – because it makes people feel better about themselves. On some level, whether unconsciously or consciously, we think “If I tear down someone else, then it will be obvious to everyone, including myself, especially myself, that I have made the right decisions.”

    Reply
  2. lodnire

    Can your kids teach my kid how to do that – watch Tv without wanting everything advertised and go into a store without asking for everything??? That said I totally agree it would make Christmas shopping difficult if they only want one thing. Hope she liked the Leap Pad!

    Reply
      1. lodnire

        N’s list this Christmas was 7 pages long! Told him next year he gets to ask for something he needs, something to wear, something to read and ONE thing he wants.

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