I was standing by my real life fresh smelling Christmas tree breathing it while admiring the ornaments. Growing up, to memory, we had one real Christmas tree that was gifted to us. My mom is actually very creative and good with decorating, so she rocked the hell out of fake ones when we had them. They were always beautiful, adorned with gold bows and what not. We didn't always have this. Some years we had nothing. We didn't have consistent tradition by any means. It is part of why I am so driven now to create and establish that.
But you see, these are not the things that make us good parents. Good parents aren't made on material things like what we have. What we have is a benefit, yes. But what shapes our character as people is what we offer our children in our time and wisdom. Each life circumstance teaches a lesson of who we are going to be. Will my excess of toys spoil a child or will they learn gratitude? I have seen both. I am most concerned with the heart and person my son develops into. Sometimes as parents, this means tough lessons accompany the growth that comes with character development.
I have not had an easy life and I did not have the ideal childhood. Yet the hardship of my life chiseled me into the woman I am today. Would I choose to raise my child in a similar way to what I experienced? No, I could never. And on a material level, he has abundantly than I ever did. And that is great. But my top concern, is who will he grow to be. Entitled? Grateful? Compassionate? Kind? These are the things that matter. Not whether or not our tree is real. Not if he gets books at the book fair. Not how many Christmas presents he might get. In this case, maybe sometimes, less is more. Does he go without? Never. Because even if I don't get him something, the myriad of family and friends who love him somehow do. We are fortunate to have such a tribe of people who love so much. We really are deeply fortunate. However, it is still my job as his mother to instill some of these values in him.
I want him to really to know how people matter. Right now he thinks of the world and its people as stark black and white-good and bad. Life is never this way. And people are made of life circumstance and choices along the way. It's never just about who a good guy or bad guy is.
Just some of my thoughts, anyway.
We are not good or bad parents based off of the material things we offer. We are good because of our hearts. We are good because of our time. We are good because of our presence. We are good because of our hard work for them. We are good because of our intentionality with them. We are good even when we suck at these things. Pinterest doesn't measure our value as parents. The photo books made, gifts bought, themed holiday decorating, number of homemade meals-none of that measures our real worth as parents.
At the end of the day what matters is our love, our character, and that we were there.
In my house, we fill our home with joy. We fill our home with good food and good people. We fill our home with the dirt and grime of little boy playtime. We fill our home with dishes and wine and fruit.
Strong voices rise in our home. Tears are shed. Dancing is near. Laughter spills over.
We choose love. We choose life.
And we are never, ever alone.
These are the things which matter most. The rest is a surplus (that I am grateful to have and provide) to these blessings of the heart we are so gifted with. So yes, we have our tree and our stockings and our traditions that I am so intentional in forming, but at the end of the day, we have each other. And nothing beats that.