Going big with the love

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d start with a Christmas story.

In December, there was a video going around on social media about a girl in kindergarten in the US who’s only Christmas present wish was for her Dad to come home from Iraq.  Santa shows up at her school classroom with gifts for all the kids and then, in the big reveal, takes off the beard and hat and it turns out to be her Dad. Cue crying.

Seriously, cue crying. Which I totally did since her reaction and her Dad’s was really heart-melting to witness. Absolute love and joy.

But, then I got to thinking. How confusing for this kid. Does she now think her Dad is Santa? What about the other kids in the class – do they think this guy is Santa? Or, how many of those kids were now asking, “hey, is Santa even real? WTF?”

Which may have been fine if I’d kept my thoughts to myself (a place I seem to end up at a lot).  But I was out with a group of girlfriends who all, except for me and one other woman, have kids. And we were talking about this video and I shared my thoughts and said that I have never been able to sort out what I would do if I was a parent with regards to the whole Santa and Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny gig.

I mean, you basically lie to your kids. At the same time you are trying to build a sense of trust with them and teach them not to lie.  I remember how I felt when I figured out that Santa wasn’t real. Like the butt of a practical joke; too stupid to figure out what everyone else already knew.

On the other hand, Santa is fun for kids. The excitement, leaving him treats (and some for the reindeer), using the NORAD site to track his progress on Christmas Eve. Who wants to miss out on that?

As you can imagine, there was a deafening awkward silence at my statement punctuated only by the sympathetic glance from my also-childless friend, who clearly knew better than me to not voice such things.  I’m not sure if I sounded critical, I certainly didn’t mean to be. I was genuinely interested in how these women squared that circle.

Alas, no one picked up my awkward words as they lay there on the table staring helplessly back at me. There was just awkward silence as everyone just took another drink from their cocktails and the evening continued on. So, anyway ….

Later, also via Facebook, I found an article about how people explain Santa to their kids as they get older. It proposed  that we all are the spirit of Santa together. When you’re a kid, your parents play the spirit of Santa. When you get older, you learn that everyone is the spirit of Santa and we all contribute to making the magic of Christmas. It is bigger than just a guy who delivers presents. It’s the sharing and gifts and gratitude we all create our loved ones.

Which brings me to Valentine’s Day. And making the spirit of Valentine’s Day bigger than just chocolate, consumerism and couples. It brings me to Generosity Day. To bringing more love into the world, in all its various forms. Couples and families, friends and strangers. To random acts of kindness. To sharing ourselves instead of our stuff. To the pause in a busy day to really connect with another person. To buying the stranger behind you in the drive-though a coffee. To taking the time to listen. To hugs and smiles. To going big with the love. In a hundred small ways.

Maybe it’ll last longer than just one day.

generosityday1

3 thoughts on “Going big with the love

  1. For what it’s worth, we don’t “do” Santa in our house and Iain has never (and will never!) get a gift from Santa. I agree with you in that the whole Santa thing is basically lying to our kids and I’m not really cool with that. When he gets a bit older, we’ll probably explain that other people believe in Santa and that it’s okay and normal to believe different things, just like some people are Xtian and some are Muslim and some are Wiccan and some are athiest. We may not believe in the same things but we still have to show each other respect and be kind. (But man, can it get annoying when random strangers will ask Iain about his “loot” from Santa and will get all weird when I try to explain that we don’t do Santa and our child doesn’t get shit-tonnes of gifts. It’s like they think I’m beating him or something!!)

    I like the idea of a Generosity Day. This morning, we gave our homestay students chocolate and this afternoon, one of them came home with a balloon for Iain (because he’s MAD about balloons!). I like the idea of a day of love and generosity outside of a romantic, heteronormative relationship; celebrating love in all of its forms is much more gratifying. 🙂

    Happy Generosity Day, my friend!!

    • The other thing that bothers me about Santa is the idea that if you are “good” then you are rewarded with gifts. Both the judgement of what is “good” and the reward of stuff seem to be like dangerous set-ups. Not mention the fact that the corollary of “good = reward” is “bad=you deserved it”. That’ll just mess you up!!!!

      Happy Generosity Day(s)!!!

      • Agreed! And the threat that some parents use with their kids to “motivate” them to be “good”: “be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents!” It annoys me. Being “good” (whatever that means) should not be encouraged through gifts or external motivation. Kids should have an intrinsic motivation to be “good”, not an external motivation to receive gifts OR to be punished for being (or not being) good (enough).

        This is one reason why Greg and I also don’t say “good job” when Iain does something. Instead, we ask questions about what he’s doing, why he’s doing it or we make observations about how his actions/words are affecting those around him (“Look sweetie, when you shared your toy, you made that other kid happy” or “Look sweetie, when you said that word, you made that other kid sad”).

        Here’s a great article about saying “good job”: http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/gj.htm

        Alfie Kohn also writes about the educational system and grades. As a teacher, it’s something I can really get behind but I am still so frustrated because parents, the administration and the whole educational system DEMAND handing out grades to kids. Makes me want to homeschool Iain some days! 🙂

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