Letting Go of My ‘Small Christmas’ Guilt


A typical Christmas morning for us as kids!

Last week this blog post went viral.

A mother was made to feel guilty (surprise!) by the number of gifts she had piled around the Christmas tree…and the fire place, and the sofa.

As soon as she posted her Christmas photo she was told she was materialistic and that her kids would grow up to be spoiled.

I can see why people would say that, I totally do, and the only thing that the picture brought up for me was nostalgia!

My sisters and I grew up with Christmas being like that and they were sheer magic.

Are we spoiled? Flippin’ far from it. My middle sister is a therapist who works in high-risk communities, my little sister is a doctor of nutrition, and I am an entrepreneur who works with little babies and their new mamas. We all care for others (to a fault we’ve been told) and would give you the shirts off our back without question.

So why didn’t our big Christmas mornings spoil us? Because we knew that our parents worked hard as heck to give us all the things they never had. They didn’t get very much for Christmas as children, if anything at all, and they wanted more for us. I’m pretty sure they enjoyed those Christmas mornings as much as we did.

One year Santa gave us each an instrument (guitar, keyboard, and a bass) in hopes that we might form a family band. Another year I got just a pair of ski boots with the excuse that Santa ran out of money – only to find the ski’s under the sofa later that day!

Did they go overboard on Christmas morning? Probably. I’m sure they racked up a credit card or two, but it really was the one day of the year they allowed themselves to live for the moment and let us have whatever we wanted. Don’t get me wrong, they always wanted us to have opportunity and experiences they never had, but we were expected to stay out of trouble (way out of trouble) and do well in school. It was important to them that we were able to do the hard work of being kids.

So if I loved my big Christmas so much, why is my kids Christmas so small?

I have given this one day a year more thought than I probably should, I go back and forth between pride and guilt, sadness and ‘this is enough-ness’. I still remember last Christmas staring at our tree with a handful of gifts barely edging the skirt and I felt so, so sad for my daughter… who was absolutely thrilled when she woke up!

The truth is, Christmases like the ones my parents put on are not a reality for my husband and me. Since our daughters birth we have moved between the two largest, and most expensive, cities in the country. My husband works contract (gone are the days of 35 year steady jobs) and I run my own business while raising my daughter. And as we all know, most 2 income households today don’t have as much as a single income households had back in the 80’s.

But there is more to it than just money. Sure I want my daughters Christmas to be as magical as mine was, and I don’t think it was magical just because we got a #$*% ton of toys. It was magical because of the experience, because of the feeling we had in our gut, because of the traditions. Meat pie at Uncle Bobby’s, midnight mass, family boardgames, crawling into bed with my sisters and pretending to sleep, the sound of Santa’s bells through the house.

Those traditions are what really stuck with me and now that I’m grown and I live miles away from my parents and my sisters, I know they are what was truly important. The amount of love and care my parents put into our happiness on Christmas morning is what we remember, and what I hope my daughter remembers too. She doesn’t need presents to create happiness on Christmas morning, we just need to have a whole lot of fun together!

I don’t feel the need to give my children the childhood I never had, because my childhood was fabulous, and I have my parents to thank for that. Our parents were enough for us on Christmas day, they just didn’t know it at the time. They were all we needed…the gifts were just a bonus!

The Holidays can be challenging enough as is, creating a magical evening while navigating family (& extended family) is never easy. How someone chooses to celebrate their holiday is not really anything that we need to comment on, after all you have no idea what is going on behind the scenes.

Natasha Marchand is the co-founder of bebo mia inc. and mother of 4yo Sadie.

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