As Christmas approaches I will be posting articles from my vault that focus on the holidays. Here is the first from December 15, 2009.
It’s Christmas, and what I have to say is going to offend some and infuriate others. So, if you choose to continue reading, be prepared to be upset.
It’s that time of year when the collective plaintive cry is: “What do I get my child/children for Christmas?” Many parents are foraging through stores and online in search of that which they can ill-afford and, in reality, their child/children have little real need of. But for those unable to differentiate between wasting money, spending what they cannot afford and what a child really needs, the quest is on.
Children need that which is substantive, and there is nothing more enduring than a fundamental understanding of what Christmas is about and the reason we celebrate it. Christmas is about the birth of Christ. It is about the love of God for mankind that is so great. He sent His only Begotten Son, to be born of a virgin – that through His virgin birth, death and resurrection, we can have eternal life with Him if we confess, believe and accept in our hearts that said is the case.
But parents will watch the most foolish and imbecilic programming, never once considering – much less attempting – to share said truth with their child/children. They will take their child/children to Wal-Mart and Target before they take them to church. Still others will take them to church, not to learn of Christ, but simply because it’s Christmas.
While I, without apology, believe Christ is the quintessential substantive of life, I also believe that there are other things that, while sans eternal value, are of critical importance. We live in a world in which we are being divided based on educational preparedness. Children must be able to function on par levels, or they will contribute to the continued devolvement of intellectual ascendancy.
I’m not anti–toys and gifts, but I am anti-ignorance. If children cannot read, write, speak or interact beyond the immediate environs of their neighborhoods – what will they be able to contribute to their/our tomorrow or their future families?
I was raised by a single mother who suffered an emotional breakdown when I was 10 years old. But she never allowed her condition to excuse me from learning. And while I did not go without a toy of some kind, the rest of my gifts, regardless of how basic, reinforced her belief in educational preparedness accompanied with the strict expectation that I excel academically. She and my grandmother set a high bar of expectation, and I was expected to respond in kind.
Today, we see low bars of expectation especially from the parents – if we see any at all – and their children, for the most part, are not disappointing them. Children can repeat verbatim the words to dozens of stupid, worthless and in many instances vulgar, antisocial, misogynistic pieces of trash masquerading as music – but they have never read Charles Dickens or Mark Twain and haven’t a clue who Bach or Brahms were.
My grandmother used to say, “An excuse is the easiest thing in the world to find.” Parents today must stop making excuses for underperforming children. And for those parents that thump their chests and drive vehicles with bumper stickers proclaiming their child is an honor-roll student, I suggest you examine exactly what tangible benefit that is – because in most public schools, being on the honor-roll is worth only slightly more than the bumper sticker acknowledging same.
In my office I have two photos of deceased relatives – one from the mid/late 1880s, the other from 1900. I was told that my relatives in those photos were able to read and write. My relative in the one photo had been born a slave, while the two in the other photo were born just after the end of slavery. Yet, they were able to read and write, even if, as I suspect, it was only commensurate with the level of instruction they had received.
Parents today do their children no favors by buying them gifts just so they can have what someone else has. That is nothing more than the parent attempting to assuage his or her own guilt, the end result being unprepared children and self-deluded parents.
Toys break and electronic/computer games are obsolete minutes after they are purchased, but a truly valuable gift for a child is a bankbook and savings account that they must contribute to regularly – and to which there are strict rigid guidelines affixed pursuant to withdrawal. Too few children understand the value of money and the need to save it.
This Christmas, if for whatever reason you choose not to share the “Truth” of Christmas with your child/children, at least give them more than a video game and an earring. Give them something that when they are older they will still have. Books don’t break, and a penny saved is still a penny earned.