Sunday, December 28, 2014

Moving beyond "no gifts, please"

Here's what I know about parenting:  I know you can't just say to your kids, "Don't do X".    Kids just aren't smart enough to know what to do when they're not
  • picking their nose;
  • hitting their friends;
  • leaving clothes on the floor.
Instead, kids have to know what the alternatives are.  They have to be told about Y.  It's much better to know that they should
  • use a hankie (or at least go in the bathroom and then wash hands);
  • walk away and count to ten, then ask a grown-up for help;
  • use the laundry chute.
After two dozen years of parenting kids -- half my life, for gosh sake! -- I've gotten much better at the "do this instead" commands instead of the "don't do that" commands.

And so . . . well, so I didn't say "No gifts, please" this past Christmas.  I said, "We'll do gingerbread and eggnog on Christmas!"  And it was a FABULOUS Christmas, can I say?!

My step-daughter L (the younger) made this beautiful creation . . .
. . . that she loved so much she photographed . . .
. . . until it got destroyed in an earthquake, alas:

K-daughter, the gingerbread house veteran, created a much more sturdy (well, at least it's still standing now) house with moat and spire.  Her new husband helped.
There were many people in and out of the house. It was a wonderful time.

There were even gifts, albeit minimal ones.  K-daughter made homemade fudge; L-daughter (the elder) bought me re-usable whiskey rocks; L-daughter (the younger) got me mittens.  This was perfect for me -- reusable or consumable, unobtrusive objects.  In fact, my favorite line from all of the season came from L-daughter (the  younger), who reassured me:  "the mittens: they look like they're new, but really they're not.  I got them at a yard sale!"  Perfect.

The boys opened scads of their own gifts.  The girls got useful gifts (LED lightbulbs, or Misto sprayer, plus a few rolls of dollar coins).  But the gifts weren't the center of the celebration; the people and the conversations were, instead.  Gingerbread-construction on Christmas is a keeper of a tradition, as far as I'm concerned.

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