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Why my kids are getting nothing for christmas

Anthony Sharwood
Monday, December 17, 2012

Kids, you're getting nothing. For real. Don't look under the tree for the gifts with cards hand-written in Daddy's illegible chicken scratch because there won't be any. You're getting diddly this year.

I am not punishing you. I am not saying that I don't love you or that you don't deserve all the happiness and Beyblades in the world. You do. You're just not getting those Beyblades from me.

Want to know why? I'll tell you why. Because this week, I read a heartbreaking story in a Queensland community paper where a poor kid said they wanted a Mars bar for Christmas. A Mars bar. Another kid wanted a pink drink bottle.

I know you guys are not spoilt rotten, or mostly not, but there was this moment last year on Christmas morning when I looked at all the torn wrapping paper on the floor and thought nup, this is not right. This is too much. This is not Christmas.

You remember that scene in Dr Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas? The bit at the end where the Grinch sits up on his hill with all the stolen presents and looks down on the Whos in Whoville and observes that they are celebrating Christmas anyway just as eagerly without their toys?

There's a message in that story, and the message is that Christmas is about family and togetherness and thankfulness and grace. I want to send you that message just like the Whos sent it to the grinch.

Maybe, at ages six and nine, you're still too young to understand this. Then again maybe you're not.

But you know what? I reckon we can play beach cricket in January with our old gear. I know we lost the plastic stumps, but we can use sticks. We don't need a new set.

I love it when you guys improvise with your old toys. I just love it. All your school friends have Beyblades but you guys have turned your old big Lego on its sides and worked out that it spins on the corners. I swear it makes me weep with joy when I see you guys playing with that.

And those little Sylvanian Families figures. I love the little society you create with those guys and the way you play out conversations. Children using their imagination is the sweetest thing in the world, not to mention the most healthy.

Let's be honest, you guys have sucked up your share of iPad time playing Minecraft this year. To see that you can still improvise with inanimate objects is the most beautiful thing.

So here's the deal. Keep improvising with your old stuff. On Christmas morning, you'll get plenty of other crap anyway from your mother and your grandparents and everybody else.

And I'll tell you what, I'll donate a bit of cash on your behalf to some poor kids like those kids in Queensland, how 'bout that? Plus maybe a little extra to the monkeys or the pandas or something, how's that sound?

By the way, if perchance anyone gives you a unicycle, would it be asking too much for Daddy to have one teensy weensy little go on it?


Anthony Sharwood is the current deputy editor of The Punch.

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