We often say we wish we could go back to the old days when the times and the people were more innocent and everyone lived off the grid of strife and disease and daily hardships. That nostalgic myth is difficult to resist even though anyone reading a good history book will be hard-pressed to find a long-lost utopian era when everything was wonderful.
My weakness is the Victorian Christmas card because it portrays kids and adults as though they lived in a halcyon era when Heaven existed on earth.
Surely joy and love and innocence existed in those days. It’s tempting to say that was the norm and dream of going back to such a wondrous time. We’re in love with the myth and the artwork, though, rather than the reality of days named after Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901). My parents tried very hard to re-create this myth during the Christmas holidays. They did achieve magic for my brothers and me, something I think parents can still do in spite of darker issues of the day.
Today’s young may not believe in that magic for as many years as we believed in it. Too bad: they lose their innocence so young. But those who are open to magic, family gatherings, songs, spiritual themes, and the beauty of decorated homes: whatever magic we can create for them nourishes them forever and is worth the effort.
There’s still time within the lives of our children to show them the beauty of giving rather than receiving. There’s still time to show them that special days are important for family and friends. And that even if we all know more about the evils of the world than we did at their age a century ago, we can put all that on hold for a day or a week or a month and focus on the better times within the scope of the holidays we celebrate.
In other words, we need to give our kids the gift of childhood. Yes, the time will be all-too-brief. Yet no matter how brief it is, it will be carried within their thoughts for a lifetime, not so much as a reality but as a possibility, one that they can convey to their own children years from now. I’ve always had an appreciation for families that manage to pass down the good things of their lives generation after generation in spite of hard times. They don’t have to allow hatred to win, much less prosper.
That’s what we attempt to teach our kids via the magic of the holidays. It’s not a goody-two-shoes view of the world, but a wonderment we can find if we look hard enough. Our kids must be streetwise, but with wisdom that transcends the streets.
That’s a gift we strive to give our children.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can give our children, in addition to unconditional love and acceptance of their life’s choices is an optimistic outlook that no matter how much bad stuff they know, the spirit of the world is pure. Then, perhaps, they will live off the grid of the cynicisms of our era and see that re-creating the innocence of old holiday cards is a goal worthy of their hopes and dreams.