That children inherit certain physical and personality traits from their parents is indisputable. Carla and I are both planners and list makers, so it should be no surprise that our children follow suit.
However, I am having trouble explaining the borderline mental disorder that has beset my children this year as they compulsively write and rewrite their Christmas lists. Never mind that they are completely focused on the “receiving” rather than the “giving.” So far those lectures have fallen on deaf ears.
And let’s also set aside the fact that they already possess enough toys to stock a discount super store. The children’s marketing machine that is Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Disney Channel has convinced them there is so much more that they need.
I remember that it wasn’t so long ago that my own list was more than socks, underwear and an Amazon gift card. Growing up, my brothers and I compiled lists consisting of Atari games and Star Wars action figures and their requisite battle equipment. It wasn’t that we didn’t exhibit the same level of greed and self-involvement; it’s just that there were real limits. The problems children face today in compiling their lists is that their options are literally endless.
Long gone are the days my father used to describe when Christmas gifts from Santa were whatever could fit in a stocking and were highlighted by citrus products. A new bicycle or the now infamous Red Ryder BB Gun was a gift of amazing magnitude.
Now, such “large” items are afterthoughts behind a dozen different video gaming systems, both home and portable, action figures from every movie that hits the silver screen and the bottomless pit that is the Lego franchise.
Ah, Lego. Here’s where my children really struggle at honing their lists. Back in my day, my brothers and I had a couple of boxes of Legos with which we constructed houses, cars and other rather rudimentary contraptions from our own imaginations, or a limited number of suggestions from pictures on the box.
No longer. Lego has a fully-customized set for all the same movies that produce all those action figures, complete with their own little action figures with removable accessories. The execs at Lego have figured this game out, and parents are parting with more and more of their hard-earned cash only to spend Christmas day re-creating movie sets.
There are so many numbered Lego sets to choose from, they can’t narrow down their selections. Barron and Harris both have submitted lists that look like nuclear missile launch codes. Barron even typed his on the computer. When Harris found out we were seeing Santa last Sunday after church, he panicked because he didn’t have his list of Lego set numbers with him.
So as you cajole your children into narrowing their Christmas lists, allow me to offer mine. With apologies to Amy Grant, here’s my grown-up Christmas list:
- Peace on earth, etc.
- Patience to build complicated structures and apparatuses out of plastic bricks
- Skill to read blueprints and schematics for building with plastic bricks
- Money to pay for the plastic bricks
- Awareness that this phase of life passes all too quickly and that the memories made this year for my children will strengthen our bonds and make for good stories sitting around the dinner table as they grow into adulthood.
So what’s on your or your children’s Christmas list this year? What’s this year’s “Must Have” toy or gift? Leave a comment below and share your Christmas joy/pain with us. I promise it will help you feel better.