With the holidays quickly approaching, my newsfeed has been riddled with article after article about why people are going to let go of the “big Christmas” guilt and give their kids everything they want this year. After reading six op-ed pieces about reclaiming present-filled holidays, I’m here to offer an alternative opinion.
Gift giving is my love language. I get so much joy out of planning, preparing, and giving the perfect gift to each person on my list. I spend the whole year researching and jotting down things people offhandedly mention they would like, and my heart all but explodes on Christmas morning as I watch them open up their gifts from me. Last year, I cried when my husband opened up my gift to him, and not just a few tears; I all out bawled like a baby. So trust me when I say I love gift giving.
But gift giving comes at a cost. The older I get, the more I realize that the number of gifts and the amount spent on each one matters significantly less than the thought that went into preparing them. Let’s consider for a moment the families who are unable to provide the “big Christmas.”–The families who are more focused on making sure there’s food on the table or a roof over their heads, rather than 65 gifts under the tree for each child (because God forbid one child should have more than the other). Let’s put things into perspective. 1 in 4 children in Indianapolis don’t know where their next meal will come from. Nationwide, 16 million (16 MILLION!) kids live in food insecure homes, which means they lack the ability to get nutritious food on a regular basis. 795 MILLION PEOPLE (1 in 9 humans) in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. Poor nutrition causes 45% (almost HALF) of the deaths in children under the age of five worldwide. And in the last week I’ve read 6 pieces about how we DESERVE to be able to give our kids a “big Christmas.”
Let’s talk about what people really DESERVE. People deserve to be able to know where their next meal is coming from. People deserve to watch their children thrive through childhood and into adulthood. People deserve to feel full and healthy from nutritious food that helps their body perform optimally. The mentality that because we’re Americans and we can, does not mean we should.
Santa visits every child, regardless of their socioeconomic status or location on earth. He leaves gifts and spreads cheer regardless of how well off someone’s Mommy or Daddy is. It’s difficult to explain to a five-year-old who goes into school after the holiday break and is all too proud to show off the toy fire truck Santa brought him from the dollar store why his best buddy got a cell phone and xbox from Santa this year.
I don’t agree with “big Christmas,” and it is not how we will be celebrating this year, but if that’s how you’re going to celebrate, then please consider not labeling more than one or two small gifts from Santa. Level the playing field. Give others who are struggling to make ends meet the opportunity to give their children the same magical feeling on Christmas morning that you’re trying to achieve. And maybe reconsider the “big Christmas” approach. Instead, encourage your kids to GIVE the “big Christmas” to others, whether it’s through Gleaners, Heifer International, or any other worthwhile charity. Want to make sure the charity you’re giving to is spending your money wisely? Check out Give Well, Give, or Charity Navigator to make sure! Let’s put the meaning of Christmas back into the holiday season and teach our children to do the same. Happy holidays!