Are “Wants” Necessary?

Our school has done an amazing job collecting donations for a number of our most in-need families this Christmas season.  It was quite a wonderful, rewarding experience for everyone involved.  The generosity of the staff and some local businesses overwhelmed the parents who we supported this holiday season.  If I had to speculate, I would guess that this Christmas will be one of the best Christmas’ most of these children will have (or have ever had).  While I totally understand that gifts aren’t everything, but when you are a child and you never get anything on your “wish list” it can be somewhat disheartening.

Christmas for me, as a child, was often disappointing and alienating for me. It was alienating because my friends would all talk about all the fabulous gifts they got – name-brand this, electronic that, etc…   I dreaded going back to school after the Christmas break because inevitably, the first question after Christmas was always, “What did you get?”  That question still bothers me today, but as an adult I am much more comfortable talking about what Christmas really means to me when people ask this question. As a child, though, it was always a difficult situation.  I hated listening to what everyone else got.  I was so jealous of their excitement.  

One may wonder however, while we know that being “spoiled” and receiving a lot of gifts at Christmas-time, may take away from the spirit of Christmas.  Excess is not good.  It always teaches the wrong message, if you ask me.  What about for children who do not usually receive much at Christmas (or any other time of year, for that matter)?  Can one really overdo it with those children? I ask this because I am thinking about all that our families will receive this year because of the wonderful people who sacrificed things for themselves and their own families, to get presents and food for them.  What is too much for these families?  Is there any such thing as “too much” for families-in-need? One may ask, “How will their families measure up in Christmases that follow?” One may also argue, “There are so many children who are in need, perhaps these gifts should be spread thinner to help more families.”

All of these points have value and I understand from where these thoughts may come.

I would argue though, that it is very difficult to do too much for families who are really in need, especially around this time of year.

Most of what was given to these families was not “wants” but the very basic “needs” for the season – winter boots, winter jackets, toques, scarves, gloves, shirts, pants, sweaters, underwear, and socks.  These are not frivolous by any stretch of your imagination. These are necessities that most of us take for granted.  Not these families.  These are luxuries, unfortunately.  New clothes – not from a second-hand store (not that there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes it is nice to be the first one to wear something) just can not be afforded by many of these families.

So, what about those “want” items. You know, those things that we all ask for at Christmas (or our birthdays, or any other special occasion) that we just don’t really need.  Do these children really need to get these “want” items, or should any money spent on these items be spent instead to buy other children the “needed” items?  Being from a family that did not have much growing up, and often relied on small hampers at Christmas, I know just how important those “want” items are for people – not only children.  Don’t we all deserve to get something that we just “want” once in a while?  Do children from poorer families lose that luxury just because of their family of origin?  Don’t they too deserve to get something they “want” every once in a while?  I would argue that they do deserve it. Everyone does, once in a while.

So, how will the parents of our students “measure up” in subsequent Christmases?  I don’t think that really matters.  The children will be appreciative of the Christmas they have this year. They will, for once, not be disappointed with Christmas. They will, for once, not dread the question, “What did you get?” that comes for weeks after the big day.  They will, for once, have their wishes come true. What is so wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong with them being “spoiled” this year (especially since their “spoiled” consists mostly of the basics we all take for granted).  Will they have another Christmas like this next year or in the years following?  Probably not.  But, it is better to have had this experience this year, to look back on fondly, to remember the Christmas that was.  To remember the joy.  To remember the look on their parent(s) face(s) when they were opening their gifts.  It doesn’t matter who provided the gifts, the parents are the ones giving the gifts to their children. What a great feeling this will be for them as well – to be able to provide your children with things you would never dream of providing them?  How wonderful is that?

I am so grateful to the local businesses, to some individual families, and to our staff for really supporting our families who are most in need.

This Christmas is going to be one that these families will never forget. Never. Believe me. It will be special. Very, very special.  For years to come.  I speak from experience.

Please don’t question whether or not these children should be “spoiled” at Christmas. All children should be “spoiled” once in a while.  Keep in mind that there are many definitions of “spoiled”. What these families may consider an amazing Christmas, like no other,  may be what you consider to be just barely getting your basic needs met.

I can’t wait to hear the stories from these children when they return to school after the winter break. I just wish I could be a fly on the wall watching as they open their gifts on Christmas morning. How exciting!

So, in answer to my blog title question, I would say, yes, sometimes “wants” are necessary.

What do you think?

About Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am a Principal of an elementary school Langley, BC. Lastly, I am a person who loves photography. I gain so much enjoyment and satisfaction taking photos. I have learned a great deal about photography since I purchased my first dSLR in 2008. There is so much more to learn though! All three of these things help to describe who I am as a person, but also demonstrate my love of learning - nothing is ever stagnant with any of these. I love to learn!
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10 Responses to Are “Wants” Necessary?

  1. Heidi says:

    I love this post Tia. Yes wants are sometimes necessary.

    • T. Henriksen says:

      Hi Heidi,

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!

      I wish all people would realize how very fortunate we all are really. It’s one thing to have your basic needs met (which many families do not even have), but then to actually get some of your wish list of wants, priceless.

  2. Chris Wejr says:

    Tia,

    To me there is a difference between a few wants and excess. I have seen and been a part of both.

    This year will be a special Christmas for our family as our twins just turned one. Having kids puts things into perspective as we see families with excess (often our kids get spoiled by 8 grandparents… And I am sure we spoil now and then), families with a few wants, families with needs met… Families without needs met… And worse – children without physical needs met.

    We have 2 friends with infant girls in the Children’s hospital with brain cancer. All they want for Christmas is health and joy. Do they need toys and other extras like visits by the Vancouver Canucks? Probably not… But you know what… They said it best – anything that can bring a smile to their faces for even a day makes it all worth it.

    The key for me that I have learned is to spread joy – the toy is not the joy but the fact that a child can experience a gift that brings more happiness than they had before. If the gift means that the parents and child can focus on something else other than their day to day stresses for even a moment… That is a gift.

    Thanks for posting and happy holidays! (And soon happy b-day at your house). 🙂

    • T. Henriksen says:

      Hi Chris,

      I agree, there is definitely a difference between a few wants and excess. There is FAR too much excess going on today. Seeing what others are going through, realizing the struggles many families face, including your friends, puts everything into perspective. And yes, anything that will bring a few smiles in times of stress, uncertainty, heart-ache, and illness, is so very important.

      My kid and I went shopping for some families at my school this Christmas. It brings me so much joy knowing that they will have a happy Christmas, full of surprises (instead of disappointment). It also gives me joy, as you point out, that the parents will be able to enjoy the day and not worry about how they are going to buy presents and/or give their children the very basic of necessities.

      I hope you have a great time with your girls this holiday season – much different than their first Christmas. So very exciting! 🙂

  3. Lisa Domeier says:

    Tia,
    Such a thoughtful post. Every human being deserves to be valued and to know that they matter.
    As we were going grocery shopping this week (a weekly occurrence for us and a luxury for others), my 8 year old daughter told me, “Mama I think I have finally figured out what I need and what I want.” Oh to be so wise at such a young age. I wonder why we give so much at Christmas but ignore the shameful rate of poverty in BC and the rest of the world throughout the rest of the year? Imagine what people would accomplish if they did not have to worry where their next meal is coming from? I love donating money to Kiva.org to finance micro-loans to deserving people in the developing world. They repay the loans and I re-loan my donation to others.
    Thanks again for your insightful thoughts.
    Lisa
    @librarymall

    • T. Henriksen says:

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, Lisa.

      You are so right, it is a shame that people give and give and give during the holiday season, but not so much the rest of the year. Sad. Friends of mine, who own a local business that supported a couple of our families this Christmas, came to visit to tell me that if we needed any help with any of our families during the year, just to let them know. There words were, “It shouldn’t be just at Christmas when we are providing support.” So generous and so very caring. Wouldn’t the world be so much better if more people thought this way?

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment and telling us some of your thoughts.

  4. Denise Krebs says:

    Tia,
    Thanks for sharing this. I totally agree that some wants are necessary. Thanks for taking the initiative for making this happen. I just posted a picture of some gifts our school gathered for a family in a nearby town, a family they won’t ever meet. The pictures don’t really show just how much is there. I hope they will feel spoiled; I think they will. However, this act of giving has made all of us more excited about Christmas ourselves!
    Gifts
    Denise

    • T. Henriksen says:

      Hi Denise,
      Thanks for stopping by! The pictures of the gifts you all gathered are great. I’m sure they will make a huge difference for the family this Christmas. Good for all of you. It sure feels good to help others, doesn’t it? This is the first year that I haven’t even thought of what “I” want for Christmas. I really don’t want anything. I just needed to help others this Christmas. It has really made this Christmas something special for me, personally. Sounds like it has for all of you as well.
      Tia

  5. Tia,
    Thank you for writing such a thoughtful post. I agree, so many children are given in excess so it poses the question, does it then even bring joy? If it does for how long until there is “something else” that is now wanted?
    Many children in my school are over indulged and many have the gift of self pity. However, there was a moment when I was given some hope. Two fourth grade friends drew each others names in a gift exchange. Both brought wrapped gifts on the given day. One is a scholarship student, the other is luckier. When the luckier student unwrapped her gift she found a Scrabble game. The student sitting next to her pointed out reasons why the game couldn’t be new. She looked at him and announced loudly enough for the class to hear, “but I love to play Scrabble.” She spoke from her heart and loved her gift because it was given in love.
    As I watch parents run though the stores grabbing everything in sight for their kids I now wonder is it given with love or because my child wants this?
    So glad I found your blog. I like what you have to say.
    JoAnn

    • T. Henriksen says:

      Hi JoAnn,
      I love that story of the two fourth grade girls. That is so sweet. It really is what is in the heart that matters. I’m glad that the more fortunate girl realized that. That is a tough lesson that many do not ever learn.

      We went really “minimalist” for our kids this year. They will not receive a lot of gifts, but will remember the special time we have together, I hope. It is really difficult to buy just a couple of gifts (and not even “big” ones), because you really just want to give your children everything their little heart desires, but that isn’t right. It’s so important for them to realize how fortunate they are and that they don’t really “need” those things.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, reading, and taking the time to comment.
      Tia

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