Social media has its panties in a bunch over a 35-year-old mother of three who posted the following photo online:
I LOVE christmas I LOVE spoiling my kids in the festive season and I work damn hard to make sure it is every bit as amazing as it can be.
Here's why this woman, Emma Tapping, is amazing:
I'm pretty adamant about not half-assing Christmas. First of all, everything is what you make it. Christmas can be the most special, magical time of year... but only if you put in the effort. Magic doesn't just magically happen. You make your own magic -- just like, the rest of the year, you make your own luck. Boring people lead boring lives.
Yes, you may argue, But the point of Christmas shouldn't be presents.
To which I say (as I wrote in If You Think Christmas Is Commercialized, I Think YOU Are Uninspired): if that's all giving gifts means to you, you're doing it wrong. The point of presents isn't giving presents. It's to look into someone's soul. Their goals. Their interests, dreams, their problems and their ambitions. Then empower them. Enable them. Give them a meaningful experience -- or the means to have one. Heal them. Pamper them, if that's what they need to live a happier life.
Help them make their dreams come true.
THAT is what gift-giving is about.
For example, as I wrote in the aforementioned post, when I started writing a lot of my own music, my boyfriend surprised me with a Rode VideoMic Directional Video Condenser Microphone with Mount. It's not something I would have thought to buy for myself. I was stupidly all, "Oh, the mic on my computer works fine!" But the difference is amazing, and my songs sound SO MUCH BETTER now! (Eventually, I might even post them on Patreon and be the next Justin Bieber.)
And, sure, if Tapping is giving her kids 300 presents, chances are that each and every one of them did not necessarily come from the heart. But I'll bet at least some of them did.
And here's the other thing about kids: their interests are always changing. And they're super curious. And childhood is the best possible time to introduce them to new ideas and opportunities. They're not going to love every toy or book you give them -- but there's always a chance that this toy or book could change the course of your child's life. Especially if you invest in smart educational toys, which will teach your child how to think.
As a Life Coach for Gifted Youth, I sincerely believe that every child has some kind of genius -- and that that genius is rarely born in the classroom. It develops during free play -- only then can children discover their special niche, and learn how to do what they can do better than anyone else. But I also believe that developing this genius... is a numbers game. The more ideas and opportunities they encounter, the more likely it is that they will find their niche -- whether that is watching Back to the Future (and later writing a book about it) or surfing (and later inventing the GoPro) or ear training (and later launching an $8 million online ear-training company).
In other words, getting lots of different toys and experiences can be great for a child's cognitive development.
So then, here's the other thing:
I don't think mothers "should" breastfeed. And I don't think mothers "shouldn't" breastfeed. The only thing a mother "should" do... is what is right for her and her family. If buying 300 Christmas presents is how Emma Tapping wants to make her children's Christmas special... then that is exactly what she "should" do.
If some parent on the internet has a different opinion -- fine! You don't need to give your kid 300 presents. But don't try to impose your views on someone else. Parenting is hard -- and different -- for everyone. Accept it.
So then, finally, what I love about Emma Tapping is her "Go Big or Go Home" attitude. To borrow from an old post:
People are always saying, "Life is an adventure!" And, "Do what you love!" And, "Carpe diem!" And, "Yolo!" And I agree with all these idioms. But here's the thing:
Life is only an adventure if you make it one.
In movies, you see a lot of characters who, in the course of their normal lives, get swept up in some sort of crazy experience that forever changes them. But in real life, having an adventure is usually an active process. You have to decide to do it.
This means a lot of things. It means seeking out new teams, activities and experiences. It means seeing with new, excited eyes. And it means going overboard whenever possible.
Did my friends and I burn 18 Christmas trees at an epic bonfire after Christmas? Why, yes, we did.
Growing up, Christmas at the Glasrud house was fantastic. My mom would go all out -- stuffing huge stockings to overflowing. Getting my siblings and me, like, 30 presents each. Since there were three of us, and we opened each present one at a time (providing early and lasting lessons in delay of gratification and self-regulation skills, which are more predictive of success, achievement and happiness than grades, test scores, or pretty much anything else, ever)... opening presents would literally take all day.
Of course, we'd eventually need a break from present-opening, eventually. So we always did some sort of hike, whether in the snowy fields of Iowa or the palmy forests of Florida.
We would always have a special dinner on Christmas Eve, and the creamiest, most delicious cinnamon rolls and quiches and fruits for breakfast the next morning. I'm pretty sure my Christmas morning orange juice was often spiked with champagne - though I'll never be able to prove it!
But that's not all. Somehow, there'd be animal tracks in the snow on the roof. Bootprints in the living room. One year, my mom even threw a pair of boots in the fire and said they were Santa's -- oops!
And now that we're all grown up...
We still do that. If anything, it's even more fun now, because my siblings and I also contribute to presents pile. And the joy is very much in the giving, rather than the receiving.
We want to give each other as many awesome, thoughtful presents as possible, because it brings us so much joy. We know it's over the top... but this might be the only time we all get together this year. So we've just got to own it.
It doesn't have to be expensive -- in fact, the most thoughtful, meaningful gifts usually aren't. I don't really get it when people give each other, like, TVs and large electronics for Christmas. It's too standard. It's like chocolates and a bouquet on Valentine's Day. Where's the thought?
One last point: some of Tapping's critics claim that buying so many presents for her children means that her children will never "appreciate the small things in life." To which I say...
Like, seriously. Is that claim based on research or something? Because I'm pretty sure children's attitudes about gratitude, mindfulness and appreciation are more likely to come from their parents' attitudes and behaviors the other 364 days per year than they are to come from how many presents they got on Christmas. And it's clear that Tapping has an excited and generous heart. That is the attitude I think the children are likely to inherit.
I mean, look at my piece of anecdotal evidence! I'm one of the most appreciative, mindful people I know. I love to pause and admire everyday miracles. After all, I grew up and did a Stanford master's thesis and started a whole blog about leisure skills and play behavior. And I was most definitely spoiled each Christmas morning.
Moreover, as I previously mentioned, there is no way their house could possibly contain enough space for 300 new toys per year without a lot of Goodwill runs. Learning how to tidy, sort and prioritize their belongings will help Tapping's children live happier, less stressful lives -- while providing affordable toys to less advantaged children.
So, yeah. Emma Tapping is awesome, and I hope her kids grow up to be just as awesome. Don't let the haters stop you from celebrating Christmas exactly the way you want to!
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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