No commercials, but everything we need

Last year, we had cable. This year, we don’t. We still have shows for the kids, but it’s not commercial programming.

That’s my Christmas gift to me.

I have been enjoying the peace in our house without the background noise of the TV and the gimmies from my kids following every commercial break.

And my heart swelled when I asked my daughter if she wanted to write her letter to Santa in time for the Toronto Santa Claus parade and she said, “Sure!” then proceeded to ask me how to spell C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S  T-R-E-E and B-E-L-L.

I asked her why those words and she said, “Because that’s what I’m asking Santa to bring me for Christmas. I want a toy tree to go in my room and I want a bell like I got from Madame when I was the Étoile de la Semaine at school.”

Without the influence of commercials, my daughter wants her own tree, just like the big one we put up in our living room and she wants a bell. She asked for no toys, no clothes, no games. I was curious, so I asked her, “Why a tree and a bell?”

“I want the tree so that I can have Christmas in my room like we have it for all of us in the living room and I want the bell because it means that I’m special.”

I won’t forget the day a few weeks ago when she brought home the little certificate that stated that she was the Étoile de la Semaine (Star of the Week) in her class. She was lit up from the inside out. So very proud of herself and feeling very special. She told me all about what she did to be the Étoile and how she got a little bell to ring when Madame asked her to.

The simplicity of the loaned bell, the joy that it brought her for the week that she was the bell ringer, reminded me that we don’t need to go overboard to impress a child. A simple gesture, some time spent with her, fully in her presence, absorbing all the wonder that fills her small world, maybe a small token item like a bell with an assigned responsibility to ring it whenever the class or the family gets too rowdy and needs quieting; these things are an enormous measure of love to a child. The time, the attention, the gesture matter more than the toys, the clothes, the electronics, the stuff.

Year after year, we get more and more. And year after year we sink deeper into disconnect. As adults, we recognize this. As adults, we can stop this. All we need to do is get down on the level of a child, crouch at their height, put our knees on the floor, and soak up all that wonder that is childhood. Feel their spirit, let them fill us up with their wonderment, fill them up with our love and knowledge. It’s akin to praying, time spent in that pose with a child. It reminds us that we don’t need as much as we think we do. At that level, we have everything that we need. We have love, we have trust, we have wonderment at this vast universe and all the possibilities. All we have to do is kneel and see through the eyes of a child.

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