At the time, she was extremely upset.
Later on the ride home, I explained to her that it's Christmas and that we simply don't have money to buy toys "just because". I resorted to the "some children don't have any toys...you should be grateful" speech. It quieted her down but I'm not sure it really sinks in. I'm not sure she understands how lucky she is. But then again, why would she understand? She knows so little of the world.
This leads me to wonder...how do we really teach our children the meaning of Christmas? Can we teach them? Or is it something that they have to learn on their own?
We can do our best to show them. We can try to make sure they understand that it is not all about presents and Santa and making our lists. It's not all about shopping and spending and stretching our dollar.
It's about being with family and friends. It's about being grateful for all we have. It's about being kind to others. It's about giving even when we have little to give. It's about rummaging through your purse to find a few dollars for the kind man ringing the Salvation Army bell. It's about donating toys for children who are less fortunate.
But they are still children. They will still want the toys and presents. They might still be whiny or ungrateful at times. This is what children do.
However, year after year they will learn more. They will grow. They will be more selfless. They will learn from us and carry on family traditions. Someday, when they are grown they might wonder how to teach their children the meaning of Christmas. They will get it. They will know that it's not about the number of presents under the tree or getting the hottest gift of the season. They will know it's about love, and giving, and caring.
And then, maybe we will know that we did something right. We can only hope.
“Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more....”
-Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas