When my seven nieces and nephew sprinted downstairs on Christmas morning to revel in the joy of opening their gifts, I was right there with my video camera recording it for all to see.
My parents, who live in Texas, witnessed it all via Skype, and as a family, we laughed it up as they yelled and screamed.
But I’m sure one of them will remember that Christmas isn’t about gifts. It’s about family, fellowship and togetherness.
The other day I had to gut check my 13-year-old niece who crassly demanded of her mom where her gift was. One of my sisters, a single mother of four, spent $300 to fly to the DC area to spend the week with her kids. The four sisters have lived with my wife and me for a year, when my sister collapsed on Christmas Eve 2012 due to a variety of health issues.
I was trying to mind my own business when I overheard my sister, and immediately my blood began to boil. My anger stemmed from the fact that on many occasions, my wife and I have taught the six nieces we are raising that life isn’t about material possessions; it’s about what we do as a family.
This particular niece knows that the lifestyle she enjoys with us is a far cry from the life she had to endure in Houston. She has articulated and acknowledged the differences in her life.
Yes, I know she is 13, but the reality is that kids today need to fully understand that selfishness is not an acceptable trait.
One of the reasons why we see too many kids today exhibit such behavior is we are inundated with images of “gimme, gimme, gimme.” It’s not about giving but receiving. That’s why I refused to buy my six nieces any Christmas gifts this year.
The thousands of dollars we spend each month on three daily tutors (all of them were behind academically for a variety of reasons, including one being three grade levels behind), clothes, health care and outings, could easily fund a six-figure mutual fund.
My wife and I are fully aware that we are investing today in their future, but that doesn’t mean we will tolerate ridiculous behavior.
Far too many of us are bowing down the small “g” god known as commercialism. We’ve forgotten what Christmas is all about, and what we should be emphasizing every day of the year.
I absolutely cherish the memories growing up of spending time with my family and having a good time. Frankly, the gifts I received over the years blur together. A train station here. Some clothes. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.
So what stands out? Laughing, joking, eating, and playing cards, board games and enough music to fill up a neighborhood. Those are the memories locked away in my brain. And I can’t tell you what I got for Christmas five years ago.
Retailers won’t be happy to read my disdain for the constant shopping and sales. Sorry, I just refuse to fall for the hype.
If that’s your thing, go right ahead. As for me, I’m happy curled up on the couch laughing and enjoying the company of my family, thanking God for the gift of another year, another day, another breath.
That’s what really matters.
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Roland S. Martin is senior political analyst for TV One and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.”