DFWChild December 2020

Page 50

kid culture / S E A S O N ’ S to give our children the gift of a more meaningful holiday season. REMOVING DISTRACTIONS A North Texas mom named Dorothy has an unusual approach to the holidays. (We omitted Dorothy’s last name for privacy—because, as you’ll see, her philosophy isn’t one every parent agrees with.) Dorothy’s kids know Santa isn’t real. No, they didn’t have a sudden, shocking revelation. They’ve basically always known the truth. “It’s about removing some of the distractions during the Christmas season, so we can focus on what really matters,” she explains. “My husband’s parents didn’t do Santa, and even when I was a teenager I thought I might not do Santa with my future kids. Early on in my relationship with my husband, we watched his niece tear through countless presents, constantly asking, ‘Where’s my nother one?’ We just wanted our kids to have a different kind of Christmas, one built on quality and not quantity while remembering that not all kids are as fortunate as others.” Dorothy’s children (a daughter, 6, and a son, 3) do have Santa PJs, and St. Nick shows up as a character in some of their storybooks. But he’s just that—a character, no different than Elsa in Frozen. Presents come from Mom, Dad and other family and friends, without an extra haul from the “North Pole.” “This allows us to keep Jesus Christ as the center of the season, and promotes a deeper level of trust within the family by the kids knowing what’s behind the curtain,” Dorothy shares. “Of course, we have conversations with our kids to respect other families’ Santa plans to avoid ruining their experience.” Dorothy and her husband also try to not let their kids get an excess of toys that they won’t really play with. “When my daughter was a couple of years old, I realized she was accumulating so many


things and not even really enjoying them all,” Dorothy recalls. “We didn’t want people to waste money on toys that would just sit around untouched.” Now they split the children’s gifts in two ways: If it’s a toy the kids would actually like and frequently use, Mom, Dad or another family member will buy it; otherwise, the children receive “experience gifts”—tickets to Sesame Street Live, a gift certificate to an art studio or a trampoline park, zoo tickets. This year, since her kids are forgoing most outings because of COVID, Dorothy is buying activity presents, such as a birdhouse the kids can spend hours putting together and painting. “We also space out gifts,” Dorothy adds. “Our family opens stockings on Christmas Eve before other presents in the morning. It’s the same idea for our children’s birthdays. They open presents each day of their birthday week. They open one and spend that day playing with it and enjoying it. They’re not wildly tearing through wrapping paper in a frenzy of gifts-gifts-gifts, without having an appreciation for what they received as well as who gave it to them.” Does that sound too good to be true? A less material holiday season can happen, says Audrey Kteily, Ph.D., a parenting expert with Coppell Family Therapy. “It starts with how you set the tone for the season ahead. The holidays are a time for togetherness, warmth, kindness and giving. Often, the focus is on the wrong things.” That’s why experience gifts are a good option. “It really isn’t all about the stuff,” Kteily emphasizes. “Material items will not last, but experiences and family memories will.” Dorothy says the fact that they started experiential gift giving when her kids were very young definitely helped. “I think if we had waited, it would have been near impossible to get them to not focus on the next toy to open.”


december 2020 / dfwchild.com



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