Have adults forgotten the true meaning of Christmas?

Every Christmas, I debate what to get my niece, Ayana. I say this because Ayana is a girl who has been given almost everything she asks for every Christmas. When she was three years old, her parents bought her a Barbie Jeep. At four she bought him a 25-inch color television. At five o’clock they bought her a computer for her bedroom, and at six o’clock they bought her a cell phone. As you can see, when I decided to buy her a doll for her 7th birthday, she was way behind. Of course, since I don’t have kids, I have no idea what kids want these days. Technology is in, and kids are so tech-savvy that the toys that used to satisfy us as kids are long gone.

Ayana entered the room and ran over to my Christmas tree, under which were boxes with small presents. I usually give two or three “little” gifts so the children feel like they are getting “a lot.” Ayana opened her present and when she saw that it was a doll, she sighed and said disappointedly, “Another doll!” She quickly put him down, got up and flopped on the couch, sulking. Her next door neighbor, Leesa, who came to my house with Ayana, looked at her and said, “I’ll take it if you don’t want it.” Ayana, still in a bad mood, said, “Go ahead. I don’t want it. I have a lot of dolls.”

Mind you, he was sitting across the room from Ayana, listening to this display of discontent. My feelings were hurt because I thought Ayana was being ungrateful. But when Leesa took the doll and hugged her like she was a lost sister, I realized that Ayana was just being a child. She was seven years old, for God’s sake. She was reacting to a situation created by the adults, her parents and me, her aunt. Her parents had given her the best, and each year they had to overcome what they had given her the year before. So if a boy gets a computer on his fifth birthday, a doll on his seventh birthday pales in comparison.

Leesa, however, did not come from a wealthy family. Her parents struggled to make ends meet every month. Just a year before, her mother died of cancer, leaving Leesa alone. Her father tried his best to be a mother and father to Leesa, but for any girl who has lost her mother, no one can replace her mother. Leesa’s father gave Leesa what she could, but that was nothing compared to Ayana’s parents.

When Leesa ordered the doll, I knew what the true meaning of Christmas was: giving from the heart and appreciating the thought behind the gift. She had also bought a doll for Leesa, and when she opened her own gift, she was doubly elated. She jumped up and hugged my neck and named her doll Myra after her mother. I saw her lovingly play with the dolls. She said that she was going to call the other doll, Dolores, by my middle name. Ayana nonchalantly sat sullenly on the sofa.

Have adults forgotten the true meaning of Christmas? And are we transmitting our forgetfulness to our children? Our children are suffering from the commercialization of the Christmas holidays. We adults can change the course our children have taken by teaching them the true meaning of Christmas: spending time with those less fortunate than ourselves. Here are some simple steps to discover the true meaning of Christmas.

1. Donate toys, clothing, appliances, etc., to children in need.
2. Volunteer at a group home for children.
3. Visiting a child in a juvenile detention center.
4. Sponsor a family in need for Christmas.
5. Donate to a charity that helps families in need.
6. Invite a co-worker who doesn’t have a family over to your house for Christmas dinner.
7. Spending Christmas with an older person.
8. Visit the elderly in nursing homes and nursing facilities for Christmas.
9. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
10. Visit a sick person in the hospital during Christmas.

These people tend to be forgotten during the Christmas holidays, the times when they long for family and friends and the love that is shown during these times. Make a special effort this Christmas to give to someone who has less than you and teach your children that it is more rewarding to give than to receive, and you will discover that the true meaning of Christmas has not been forgotten.

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