“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

Some people (who I am sure grew up with a last name of Rockefeller, Carnegie, or Vanderbilt) absolutely love Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Bah humbug-poo-pooing Christmas or thinking of converting to Judaism ( 8 days of it?), I’m just stating the facts that “the season of giving” has become something very different  in the minds of most Americans. But still, all truth be told, I actually really enjoy this time of year! Having a six-year-old everything related to Christmas becomes magical, from Santa’s key placed on the door (it still trip’s me out that I tell my son not to talk to strangers, and definitely not to let them into our home… But then tell him that some dude from out-of-town (Santa), that no one has ever seen (STRANGER DANGER!), is given an open invite to enter one night a year and that I am totally ok with it?..Kind of feels like the frame-work for “The Purge” movie’s (plus or minus a few things) if you ask me). Then you have all of the crazy Shenanigans that his Elf on the shelf gets into. (Once again, seems a little counterproductive that Santa sends an elf to make sure that children are behaving… Then the elf just runs amok, doing things that would get real children beat. Don’t believe me, click that link above and see what some have been filmed doing, Just make sure the kiddo’s aren’t looking.) Even Snow is magical to a child, what we see as a trip to the chiropractor and slippery driving conditions, they see a winter wonderland where every white flake is not only edible, but also the beginning of the perfect snowman. Every decorated house they see is a magical dancing light castle with neon icicles, we see it as a strong chance of falling off of a ladder and elevated electrical bills. The sad part to me is that we (as adults) have a very strong tendency to push our thoughts upon our children, even if subconsciously. We gets stressed about the cost of the holidays, and in so our children do the same. We feel the need to keep up with social standards of high cost gift giving, and that becomes the baseline for what our children expect. A set of statistics collected from American households shows that in 2017 people are planning on spending $54 more than they did in 2016 on christmas gifts. $983 dollars as compared to $929 last year.  Who the hell can afford that? Even if you can, why would you want to “Push” that sentiment about the season into your children’s idea of what the season is all about? We all had those moments when we were in elementary school where you would head back after Christmas break and the first question from every kids mouth wass “What did Santa bring you?” You would be excited, and reply “Santa brought me a bike”, to which the other child would reply “Oh! (long pause) Well Santa brought me a snowmobile and a Nintendo 64, and a unicorn…” What the Hell! You knew damn well that kid deserved coal, like bags and bags of the stuff. It was probably a big conspiracy anyway, where the kids rich parents bought every coal mine in existence, just so that Santa couldn’t give any of it to their children… Then they were probably paying the elves to work in the family owned sweat shop in the off-season to squeeze the coal into diamonds! Nothing has changed, and kids are experiencing the same exact things today. It matters more what they got and what they have, then what the gave and who they are. So what’s the answer? Man, If i knew that I would write a book and become a millionaire…

…But here is what I think… All people are blessed in one way or another, Some can cook, some can paint, some can write. (if you know one of those people, send me their number, I could sure use the help) No matter what you have led yourself to believe, you are good at something, and no matter what it is… Your children look up to it, and wish that they could do the same. (Given if you can drink more than anyone in town I don’t recommend that you buy your 9-year-old a moonshine still, but I think you get the point.) Since I hunt and fish, my son wants to hunt and fish. I love to camp, now he does too. By catering to these interests, you are actually guaranteeing the opportunities to enjoy your relationship together while participating in them.  Want to blow your kids minds? Most companies ask their employees to put in their vacation requests right after the first of the year, (which just so happens to be right after Christmas). Instead of giving your child (or any loved one for that matter) some gift under the tree that they won’t remember next year, try taking a piece of paper and writing 4 simple things on it, place it in a box with a picture frame, wrap it up in a big old box and put it under the tree…

Where:                                                                                                                                                      

What:                                                                                                                                                        

Your name:                                                             Approved by:                                                        

They will surely be confused as to what it means, (and you probably are too at this point) but it’s pretty simple. It’s a family get away request, you are allowing your child to pick what the vacation will be that year. Kids are a lot more perceptive then you think, and more likely than not, they already know your financial situation. You may think they will write “Disneyland” every year but you may be surprised at what they would really like to do instead, and how understanding they are of family limitations. If given the opportunity my son would much rather go fishing and camping, then drive 16 hours to stand in line for 12 hours to ride 3 rides. Let them pick what you will do, and where they would like to go. Let them pick what to eat and what to drink, Yes, you may end up eating hotdogs, maccaroni and cheese and drinking yoo-hoo for 3 meals a day, but in all reality is that really all that bad? Most importantly, take lots of pictures on your adventure. Pick the best one and put it into the picture frame you gave with the gift. Mount it on the wall, and  I bet they won’t forget all the excitement or what they got last year. Especially with a glossy 8″ x 10″ to remind them.  Plus it creates a tradition that can be repeated no matter what is going on for the other 51 weeks out of the year.

Personally, I will have a very different Christmas this year, My second son is only 10 days away from being born, and when all goes well, we will be home 3 days before Christmas. As I type, our elf is currently zip-lining down a set of christmas lights, Santa’s key is on the back of the door, the tree is lit and the boy is trying his hardest to only do bad stuff where Griswald (the elf) can’t see. As for me, I’m just gonna let him see all of it, maybe I’ll try to cap the year off with a few extra demerits on Santa’s naughty list… I have a couple idea’s for projects I’d like to bang out on the forge, and a little extra coal never hurts.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

-Grant Willoughby and the Willoughby family, 12/10/2017-

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