Full disclosure: I used to despise the holiday season. A few of those "bah humbug" feelings have lingered, even though my son has made this time of year infinitely more enjoyable. So I work extremely hard, and am making a constant effort, to push my personal feelings aside and create new traditions with my new family, which, to date, include cutting down our own tree, decorating said tree, getting pictures taken with Santa, wearing matching onesie pajamas come Christmas morning, binging on holiday movies, and, well, buying a lot of presents for my now 1.5-year-old son.
Every now and then, I'll take a quick gander at the pile of wrapped gifts under our tree and shake my head, unable to ignore a very real feeling of overindulgence. While not all of the gifts are from us, many of them are. We went...a bit overboard, some would say, and I could definitely argue. My toddler doesn't need all (or even any) of the toys and clothes we purchased, but that didn't stop us from purchasing them anyway. The excitement and anticipation of seeing my son open presents Christmas morning definitely overshadowed my fear of potentially teaching my son that the holiday season is about things, instead of people.
But then I start to think about our holiday season. While we no doubt bought a lot of things for our son, we also did a lot of things that would ensure that while we are lucky enough to celebrate with gifted material goods, we never just celebrate those gifted material goods. And even now, as I look up from my computer and stare at those presents one more time, I am reminded that there's no reason why I should feel guilty for buying multiple presents for the one, teeny tiny person who has taught me the true meaning of the holiday season. And while some may (read: definitely) disagree, I don't feel guilty for spoiling my son one magical day out of the year, and this is why:
Expensive Or "Big" Presents Never Come From Santa
My partner and I have made it a point to never gift our son an over-the-top or expensive present from Santa. Santa is (for some) a universal symbol of the holiday season, and he travels to all the Christmas-celebrating boys and girls. I don't want another child to think they were "bad" because Santa brought my kid an extravagant present, but didn't do the same for them. Santa is neutral, and we want to make sure the gifts Santa brings can't be used to shame a child from a family that is less fortunate than ours.
I Work Hard For The Ability To Buy My Son Presents
I'm a working mother, clocking in around 60 hours a week working multiple jobs, while raising my son simultaneously. I am quick to pick up extra shifts and work on holidays not just because I love my job(s), but because I love contributing financially to my family so that we can take trips and provide for our son. Gifting him with multiple presents and seeing his excitement is my reward for making it through exhausting days and sleepless nights. There isn't a thing I wouldn't do for my son, and that includes working until my head hits the pillow so that he can have a wonderful holiday.
We Also Take The Time To Give To Those Less Fortunate
Along with the many traditions my new family is building, I make sure that volunteering, donating, or giving back is one of them. Whether it is donating money to a worthy cause, going through my son's old clothes and donating toys to shelters, or taking time to serve food at a homeless shelter, I want to make sure that when my son grows up and looks at the presents under the tree, he also thinks about those who do not have that ability. I want him to be aware of how privileged he is, so that he can use that to help others who are not.
Presents Are Not The Most Important Thing
So many of our new holiday traditions have nothing to do with material things, and everything to do with spending time together. Some of my most cherished moments, already, are the late nights my partner and I stayed up wrapping our son's presents, watching Home Alone, and laughing with one another while we guess his inevitable reactions. Going to cut down a tree together as a family or driving around to see gigantic houses and their Christmas light displays, are moments I will forever hold in the corners of my (at one time) Grinch-like heart. We may have a plethora of presents under the tree, but those gifts are nothing compared to the memories we are making as a family.
My Son's Excitement Is Worth Any Potential Criticism
I can't think of one parenting decision I've made, even before my son was born, that was agreed with by everyone. Regardless of what we do as parents, there will be someone who doesn't agree. I definitely don't think my brand of parenting is the perfect way to go and I have no doubt that my decisions and choices wouldn't work for everyone. Which is why, at the end of the day, my son will always be my main focus. I won't worry about how the number of presents under our tree might be perceived. I won't worry that some might assume I'm raising a spoiled brat. I will look under our tree and know that our son is so very loved, and that how we are choosing to celebrate the holiday season is working just splendidly, for us.
Images: Danielle Campoamor; Giphy (5)