When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith



To all you parents, shaking your heads tonight, wondering where you went wrong,

I get it.  I feel your pain.  I am here to write about our no-so-perfect Christmas experience.  Because while I believe there are many very happy Christmas's out there, I don't happen to believe they are all as perfect as Facebook or Pinterest would have one believe.

We had an unhappy camper this year.  I won't say which child, but I will say it was devastating.  I was not as upset about getting the "wrong" gift as I was about said child's reaction.  While they were not rude or mean, the fact that they were upset at all was appalling.  Hadn't they just opened some really expensive gifts that they had requested?  Were they really going to get bent out of shape because every gift wasn't perfect or just what they had wanted?

I was mad.  No, seething, is a better word.  Seriously?!  I realize they still believe in Santa and therefore don't know exactly how much work went into Christmas this year (and being overseas, it was a tough year to gather presents).  But, seriously?!   Visions of a giant burn pile danced in my head.  Don't like your toys?  Well, at least we'll have a nice, festive fire tonight!  Marshmallows, anyone?  (That was my internal dialogue.  I didn't actually threaten to burn the toys, I just fantasized about it.)  Then I launched into the Don't-you-know-there-are-children-with-no-Christmas-presents-this-year speech, which in hindsight was not the wisest move.  What about Santa?  Doesn't he give them toys?  Don't argue with me when I'm disciplining you!  
*Sigh*  What was wrong with them?

That question quickly morphed into:  What was wrong with me?  Where had we gone wrong in our parenting?  How had I raised such ingrates?  Had I ruined them?

I've decided to chalk this year up to a learning experience.  It's an opportunity to change our family culture.  Yes, my kids are young, but there are concrete ways in which I can introduce them to the fact that there is much need in this world.  They can learn to be grateful, and they can be taught to serve.  I can start by modeling gratitude myself and limiting complaints.  

I'm still a realist.  While I am sincerely hoping next year will be better (in terms of the attitudes and hearts of our children and ourselves), I still have some dire predictions about next year's Christmas season….

26 hours of travel with a high probability of someone vomiting, having diarrhea, or both.  100% chance of snot, lots of snot.

Bringing the wrong clothes, not having enough clothes, feeling cold, and wishing we were back "home" in Singapore, swimming.

Sleepless nights as we cram into a) hotel rooms or b) family guest rooms.

Forgetting gifts for relatives, last minute shopping, overspending.

One (or more) of our children complaining about a gift from a relative in the relative's presence (despite much advance coaching, bargaining, and threatening).

Schlepping Christmas présents back home.

Merry Christmas, moms and dads out there!  Only 365 days left...


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