Finding the Line

200-kidsfootKids’ Corner | By Patrick Biron –

As we enter the holiday season, my family always braces ourselves for the deluge of presents that our youngest generation receives. It’s a strange dissonance that we feel. We want to give these children we love gifts, yet when it’s all done and we are confronted with the mountain of boxes, trash, ripped paper and sometimes already forgotten new toys, we feel almost sick to our stomachs.

Let me start by saying I am nowhere even close to having any answers about this topic. I know that relative to most kids in the world, mine are extremely privileged. Life doesn’t hand every child the same tools or the same foundation, and my kids are on the high side of that bell curve. But, if there is one thing I am relatively sure of, it’s that all kids are blessed to live in a very small world. What I mean by this is that they can run out of the house with no keys, no cell phone, no wallet and no shoes and not have a care in the world. If I tried that, I’d probably have an anxiety attack within two minutes, maybe less.

Kids don’t have the burden of responsibilities, nor the knowledge of just how privileged they are or how scary the world can be, and I envy that. I envy the “no shoes, no shirt, no fear” mentality that my boys have. And, while I think it’s important for our kids to slowly be integrated into the world and the understanding of empathy and responsibility their position gives them, I think it’s just as important for adults to take some time to integrate ourselves into their world of carefree joyfulness.

Christmas, for my family, is a great time to celebrate and join both of these worlds. Every family is different, but for us, my wife and I really try to stop being Scrooges about the gifts. We enjoy the kids’ faces, we are thankful for our blessings and we probably spend a little more than we should, because life is short and you never know what it will bring.

Let’s be honest. We don’t turn off our cell phones, but we do at least stop checking them every three minutes. But, we also try to open some of the older kids’ eyes to the larger world using those same techniques. Sometimes we bake cookies with the kids and then drop them by the local fire station on Christmas Day. We talk about how those people are not with their families so they can keep us safe. We’ve made stockings for soldiers and sent them off and visited local children’s hospitals and brought by gifts that the kids picked out.

Again, every family is different. But, no matter how many or what holidays you celebrate, finding the line as a parent between giving your children gratuitous gifts and opening their eyes to the hardships of others is hard. So this year, I’m gearing up to let loose and enjoy as many minutes of my holiday as carefree as possible. If I can give my kids few minutes of care about others, maybe we all are on the right track.