I hang my head in shame as I write this, and I know this is an overused cliché, but if I can save one parent from making this painful mistake, then he or she won’t have to experience the horrors of sucking the joy out of their children (because I have yet to meet a parent who strives to do that). You see, that’s exactly what I did. I sucked the joy out of my 8 year old son, and the worst part is that joy was surrounding Christmas. Yep, that’s me, the guy that ruined Christmas for his child, by being a Grinch in November.
It was November 8th and I ran to the grocery store and after returning home twenty minutes later, I found my family downstairs decorating the Christmas tree. Yes, you heard that right, it was November 8th and they had put up the tree and decorated it! My wife has a lot of great memories from Christmas when she was a child, so to her it could be a year round holiday. And so you have Christmas music filling the basement, with the kids hopping around in delight, hanging up ornaments, and what do I do? I complain…I complained about it being too early for a tree to be up, I complained about it being too early for Christmas music, I complained the weather isn’t “Christmas-y” enough…I think I even threw in a complaint about Obamacare for good measure.
I had no reason to complain other than the fact than I like Christmas after Thanksgiving. Sure some of it was in jest, slightly exaggerated, but that type of exaggeration is lost on 8 and 6 year old kids. The music didn’t stop, the ornaments kept getting put on the tree and I got to say my piece, so the story ends here right? Sadly no, it was the next day that my heart sank to a depth of “parental failure” that I’d never experienced before.
It was that next day, when the neighbor kids came over to play, that I overheard something that will change my parenting forever. As the kids were heading downstairs to play, I head Nick say to his friend “We put our Christmas tree up yesterday. I don’t really care that we put it up. It’s ok that it’s up, but I don’t really care one way or another”. (That crashing sound you just heard was my heart breaking all over again as I write this). This is the same kid, that prior to his dad’s irrational power-trip, was hopping around the basement, chatting endlessly about the joys of Christmas. But because I had to show my displeasure for something so harmless, I now made my son ashamed of his love for Christmas. The example I just set for my children was that “if dad ain’t happy, ain’t nobody allowed to be happy”.
Fortunately, we have an immensely loving Creator who knew full well that we’re going to botch this parenting thing all too often. How do I know that? Because He created kids with zero attention span and a very short term memory. My goal now is to overdo my “love of Christmas before Thanksgiving”, so that my son can forget his dad was being such an irrational jerk. So no matter how much it pains me to say this, but bring on the figgy pudding…