A Bah Humbug/Parenting Rant

On the radio (NPR) today, I keep hearing this story about the lengths that Americans living in foreign countries go to provide a “traditional” American Christmas for their kids. Like, for example, how do you find a Christmas tree in India? I didn’t listen very carefully but I thought I heard the reporter say that there were difficulties finding a tree that was acceptable to the children of the family.

Acceptable tree? Kee-reist! Who’s the parent here? People, sit your kids down, look them straight in the eye, and tell them the facts. Like the fact that this Christmas isn’t going to look exactly like the ones they’re used to having back in the states. That you are in a foreign country with a range of cultures. They don’t all celebrate Christmas. Come to think of it, there are a whole heck of a pile of people in the U.S. who don’t celebrate it either.

Despite the fact that I grew up going to Sunday school, I’ve never been much of a Christian. But I know what this holiday is *not* about. It *isn’t* about decorated pine trees or billions of gifts under them. It *certainly* isn’t about crowded malls and impassible streets, congested with panicky last-minute shoppers. That said, we *do* have a tree. It’s got lights on it but no ornaments yet and I’ve been going hucklety-buck to try to figure out what gifts to give to who. It took me twenty minutes to get through the Carpenter/Washtenaw intersection today. What *was* I thinking?

What Christmas *is* about is peace and thinking about your neighbor, not to mention those who are a bit less fortunate, or those who celebrate other holidays. Although we should really be thinking about that stuff year-round. So if you are in India or someplace and it costs umpty-nine million dollars to ship a top-notch Douglas fir or whatever, why not make your own holiday. Find a way to celebrate Christmas with whatever is available. Heck, I bet you can get sparkly lights in India any time of the year. You don’t need a tree to hang them on. Why not the refrigerator or around the windows or in the garden, or whatever. And find a way to share your holiday with others in such a way that you don’t trample on *their* religion or culture.

I dunno. When I hear stuff like this, sometimes I think that it’s really the parents trying to provide their kids with perfect experiences rather than the kids who aren’t happy. I think that kids are typically open to new experiences and dealing with new people and different languages, etc. Like when my brother, at about age six or whatever, encountered a French-speaking girl about his age at a rest area in Canada. When asked by our parents how they had managed to communicate, his reply was something like, “It’s not hard to speak a different language. You just have to put your mouth a different way.”

I dunno what all I just said and I don’t have time to edit. So, for now, peace.

2 Responses to “A Bah Humbug/Parenting Rant”

  1. Jay and Rey Says:

    We too have a tree, inside, but with no lights, ornaments or anything yet. Maybe during the weekend.
    That said – there are still many in our area hoping to get their lights back on (any lights) before Christmas. One of my co-workers said the power company told them 90% chance by 11 PM on the 24th. And she was happy that they gave her a time at all. (80% or more have lights back, but still several thousand in the dark – since last Thursday night). So we count our blessings that we are all here and warm.

  2. Webmomster Says:

    We have two 4′ pre-lit trees up (one is white) in different parts of the house – both have a pretty ribbon draped around them. No one felt like assembling the “old” Hudson Valley tree this year…(we really don’t have a suitable place for it anyway). Also have 4 wreaths on the front porch pillars (and a red bow on the center one). No tree ornaments this year – just table-top-type.

    We are going to be out of town for the actual “Christmas Day”, celebrating with the extended Skrak family in Chicago. Mom’s teaching Barbara how to make “real” mashed potatoes for the dinner (Janet may teach them both something about putting GARLIC into the potatoes… 😉

    So. This Christmas is about NEW experiences and NEW projects and Stretching Our Boundaries (yeah, I’ll have to blog about that). Much more memorable than the material crapola, etc…