My partner and I try to instill a grateful spirit in our 4 year old. We thought we’d made great strides until we ran up against the Advent Book Escapades of 2015.

The facts are simple: our amazing church presented our child with the opportunity to create artwork for the 2015 Advent Book. The kiddo loves to draw. And seeing her artwork printed in a book? We were sure she’d be over the moon. Our family also spends a lot of time identifying Christmas as Jesus’ birthday (read: you aren’t getting lots of presents, kid. No one gets lots of presents on someone else’s birthday). We also focus on the Christmas season as a time to show our gratitude for all we have by giving to others who have less. Admittedly, I thought we’d scored a solid parent win on the Christmas/gratitude front. 

I am so naïve.

I asked the kid what she was going to draw for the Advent book.

“A Christmas tree and Santa bringing me lots of presents,” she glibly informed me. If she knew what “duh” meant, she would have used it.

“No,” I said. Parental show of force was necessary here. I mean, we’d spent years prepping her to be generous and giving during the holiday season. And now… presents? Santa? “Christmas is about baby Jesus. It’s about giving to others.”

She looked at me blankly. 

“It’s for CHURCH. Where is the baby Jesus?,” I pleaded.

“Okay, Mommy,” she sighed. Apparently, I am rather exasperating at times.

Fifteen minutes later she proudly presented her artwork to me: A Christmas tree with ornaments and the baby Jesus floating above the tree. Well, at least the baby Jesus makes a cameo appearance in her artistic representation of the meaning of the Christmas season.

My big parenting take-away from the Advent Book Escapades is that I can instill values in my child; I can remind her frequently about gratitude and giving, and I can lead by example. But she still exists in a world that values materialism and consumerism.

She will still ingest messages that tell her she doesn’t (ever) have enough, that more is always the answer. My job as her mother is to gently combat those messages, time and time again, through word and deed. It is an uphill battle, for sure. But it is one that is definitely worth fighting.

Kendra Lee is a freelance writer who might at any moment be found doing yoga, drinking coffee, checking Facebook too often, or doing a host of ninja-like things that moms do. She writes about recovery, motherhood and life at Rocket Fuel (rocketdesigns.net/blogs/fuel).

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