NORMAN — There is something about the Christmas holidays that can be both magical and crass.
Most of us recall holiday moments that still have the power to make us smile. Perhaps your young child was so excited about Christmas morning that he got up at 12:05 a.m. and woke the rest of the family to join in an extra early gathering under the Christmas tree. And after the gifts were opened, the rest of the family crawled back in bed for a few more hours while the early riser stayed up to play.
Or perhaps your child was a bit too smart.
A little girl heard a knock on the door and a deep voice asked if Mary was home. Her mother opened the door and there stood Santa. He sat Mary on his lap and asked, “And what is your name little girl?” Mary lost no time in pointing out the memory lapse to Santa.
In one way or another the magic of the season touches children and adults alike, bringing a little extra joy into our lives, which is why when bad things happen at this time of year our dismay and sadness is magnified. Unfortunately, life, death, joys, sorrows and everything in between continues its relentless flow no matter what the season.
What used to be a time when sugarplums or dreams and wishes of hoped for presents danced in children’s heads has devolved into a season of demands. Such demands seem to encompass the “Gimme and Gimme more” mindset so prevalent today.
This mindset was prevalent among several children in the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” A particularly unpleasant little girl named Veronica Salt was the quintessential spoiled child. She stomped her feet, made her demands and when they were fulfilled, she made more demands.
The curious thing is that when you observe children who are accustomed to demanding and receiving everything they ask for, they do not seem to enjoy Christmas as much as the children who are content with what they receive. The Veronicas always want more.
Once the packages are opened, such overindulged children often appear dazed as they gaze upon the piles of stuff. They are overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices they must make. Which toy should they play with first? After a while, they wander off to play with an old toy or the boxes and wrapping paper in which this year’s gifts were wrapped. Or, they complain about what they did not get.
And yet, we can look around and see people of all ages exemplify the spirit of loving and giving, a time to think of others rather than themselves. Some families volunteer at soup kitchens to help feed the hungry, while others help various charities bring a bit of Christmas cheer to those less fortunate. It comes down to how people raise their children.
Due to financial circumstances, a young mother and her children were facing a sparse Christmas. She explained the situation to them and because they were raised to understand the concept of “We can’t afford that,” the children responded with acceptance.
While the mother rechecked her financial obligations, just in case she could squeeze out a little more toward gifts, her older child placed a wrapped gift under the tree.
“Mom, I know Sally asked for art supplies and I’ve had these supplies and never used them. She can have them for Christmas.” The mother’s eyes filled with tears as she hugged her child.
May you be surrounded by the warmth of loving family and friends and may you never lose the childlike wonder of the holiday season.
Elizabeth is an author and freelance writer. Visit her website www.elizabethcowan.com. Check out her new novel, “The Dionysus Connection,” on Amazon.