I've never been big on Santa. I self-righteously like to say that I only tell my kids to believe in approved religious persons. We only give the children one gift each because they have 4 grandparents plus aunts that give them gifts. They get so many wonderful things, and we're not in any competition. So I just get them 1 thin that I think they'll enjoy. This year the gifts were each less than $10. Booker's gift was $1 at a thrift store.
I had a discussion with someone that wanted to have a gift exchange with a $5 limit. I feel like gift exchanges among acquaintances are somewhere between dumb and a bad idea. The children that aren't even getting the gifts themselves, what did it cost them? What does it mean to them? When they're giving something without knowing the recipient, does that even teach good giving? Arguably it teaches them to give as they would receive. What about the families that are already strapped after just paying taxes, and buying gifts from their families? (Here I expose my bias since only home owners pay taxes, so they must be rich anyway. Right?)
We don't go into debt. I have a bad habit of seeing everything I could not afford, as though someone is going into debt for it. Maybe they are, maybe they're not. And if they are, maybe they don't look on debt like the plague. So a lot of Christmas extravagances, to my judgmental heart, seem like "putting dumb on broke." to misquote Dave Ramsey.
P is the seminary teacher and the seniors planned a party that includes a gift exchange. He said he can see how uncomfortable some are at the price and the expectation. He told them it's more important to be there than to bring a gift. And he went and got some awesome extras. Who does not want a box of Star Crunch? Brilliant.
But the kids that "have" just can't imagine what it's like to "have not". They can't imagine the embarrassment of not being able to come up with something as simple as a gift for someone who doesn't need anything.
Last year I spoke up in Ward Council about the youth temple trip that included a restaurant lunch. They "sweetly" planned that they would cover any youth that needed it. I tearfully told them that the kids that can't buy their lunch will just say they're not hungry. Or they will waste the money they have, on a lunch that's expensive, so they can fit in. It sets the kids up for taking a hand-out. Why is it so much to just ask kids to bring a lunch, or at least make that an option.
So in all this tizzy of self-righteousness, I have failed to teach my own children the magic of giving. I read an blog today about Santa. The author tells her children that Santa is so grateful for the gift of the Savior that he wants to give everyone presents. I thought that was pretty brilliant, and puts the emphasis right back where it should be. So I told my children about that. And this year they are going to be secret Santas.
I wrote down the names of family we will see on Christmas, and had them draw names. Then we went and bought simple items, many of them food items. The children, I hope, will get to see how fun it is to do something with someone else in mind, and to not take credit or it.
So now I love Santa. I'm grateful for the person who shared that idea. Once again, I'm super slow on the up-take.