ItÊ¼s easy, tempting, and lazy, even, to ask the generic questions this time of year when working with young people: “What do you want for Christmas?” and, after Christmas, “What did you get?”
I canÊ¼t count how many times or to how many kids IÊ¼ve asked that question. But it all stopped a couple of years ago when I asked a 14 year old kid what he got for Christmas.
“A new truck,” he replied, nonchalantly.
“Like a toy truck? Or a remote controlled truck?” I asked, innocently.
“No. Like a truck, truck. A pick up truck.”
“Oh. But... you canÊ¼t drive yet.” “Yea. I know.”
“Oh... Do you like it...?”
“Meh. I mean, itÊ¼s alright. But IÊ¼d rather have a car.”
“Meh.” I was ï¬oored by 1) the fact that he got a truck that he couldnÊ¼t drive and 2) his reaction to receiving a truck.
It was then that I realized I needed to stop being lazy and come up with a better approach to communicating with kids during the Christmas season.
From that point on, I decided that I will no longer be asking kids what they want for Christmas or what they got for Christmas. Instead, I started asking, “What are you giving so-and-so for Christmas?” and “What did you give for Christmas?” I know itÊ¼s not much, but I want to work in whatever little angle I can to remind my kids that Christmas really isnÊ¼t about what we get.
And sometimes the reactions have been priceless. “What do you mean, Ê»what did I give for Christmas?Ê¼”
I donÊ¼t, in any way, want to “shame” the kids for responses like, “IÊ¼ve never given anything at Christmas to anyone.” But it does open up a wonderful opportunity to have discussions about Christmas and what it can really be about. Anytime I can plant a seed in the mind of a pre-teen or young teenagers to think about someone else, I count that as a win.
So I hope that during this wonderful season, we open up conversations with young people beyond “What did you get for Christmas?”