The Temptation to Judge Others on Christmas Morning

As my feeds commence in their holiday cheer and the post-holiday blues begin to settle in, I cannot seem to shake the guilt I feel for oversharing so many of our days.  The baking, Snacks with Santa, super fun school parties.

There are lonely people out there and here I am, throwing happiness in their faces. There are children who received nothing. There are parents who had to work instead of celebrating. Loved ones who miss their late family and friends. Little ones wondering why Santa brought their classmate everything he asked for and more while he received socks and a candy cane.

As much as we want to believe that Christmas is full of joy, for so many it is not.

It is those out there this season who dread these days in which I feel conflicted on sharing our joy. 

Despite that, I did so anyway.

While I am still not sold on my own decision, I think it is important during the holidays that we really take a minute and focus on perspective. A few years back, I remember reading a Facebook post that was filled with words of ranting in regards to shaming parents for sharing the Christmas that they provided their children.

Of course, I completely see the point of a post like this. I do feel it is important to be diligent and sensitive to the world around us. Sharing your 8-foot Christmas tree with mounds of presents almost covering the height of the tree is probably not necessary, but I also think we are a little too quick to shame others for what they decide to share on Christmas.

Adam and I have been married for roughly 12 years. The behind-the-scenes financials of each Christmas haven't ever really looked like the next. Some years, we had to work extremely hard and make sacrifices for the gifts under the tree and others, it's come much easier.

Some of the best memories, though, are when we had nothing but gave everything because our hearts would rather go without for ourselves than not give to others. 

It is these times I remember to evaluate my own perspective when tempted to wonder why people chose to share what they did.

When I see that mound of presents piled all around, I remind myself that I do not know the story. Maybe that is a dad who never once had anything for Christmas, now able to provide for his own family. Maybe it's a family giving their kids what seems obnoxious, but they saved and saved most of their paycheck just to see those smiles on their children's faces.

You see, we just don't know the meaning behind these pictures we see scrolling our feed. In truth, we don't know anything about these pictures: the strife, the grief, the smiles that haven't been seen in months, lit up a glow from the season. We don't know the work it took to save for the gifts, the trips, the activities.  Maybe that trip to ICE was the only thing her family did all season.

I felt immensely guilty for doing a crazy insta-story as we put together our two daughter's gifts from Santa. They each got a Playmobil home (one a dollhouse and one a castle) and the rooms that accessorize the home. That's it. Their stockings were super simple. I had no intention in sharing their other two gifts when creating that insta-story.

Usually, they get their collection of gifts and we, as Mom and Dad, give them three gifts each (a want, a need, and a read) but truth be told, those Playmobil items far exceeded our usual Christmas budget so we decided that that would be it this year.  A seemingly small Christmas, but one that exceeded the bill.

After overhearing our four and seven-year-old talk about wanting bikes on several occasions, at the last minute, we decided to get those from us. It was above our budget and it came at a bad time. Two days after Thanksgiving, our four-year-old living room TV blew. Our 13 month (fresh out of warranty) dryer's motor went out. Our iPad crashed and shattered. Our youngest little lady had a nearly $2000 MRI. Fresh on the heels of us hitting a much worked for financial milestone.  First world problems, yes, but aggravating nonetheless.

Within a week, all of it crashed. It wasn't that the bikes were bank breakers {they absolutely were not} but all of the hard work we had put into our finances and finally hitting our goal seemed to be blowing up in our faces.  It was beyond irritating. 

We debated the gifts for several reasons, but in the end, we decided on doing them because in all reality, they never really asked for them. They talked about them with each other not once, not twice, but three times--mostly in the car and once as we passed them at Toys R Us. The thing was, despite knowing that it wasn't really the greatest time for us to add these bikes on the list, we knew it would bring our kids a little extra unexpected joy.

So we did it.

Fast-forward to Christmas morning. Santa came and left the two houses for the girls and filled their stockings with trinkets. They did not get everything they asked for, but their hearts were full. No other gifts under the tree remained from mom and dad like all the years past but not a word was said. Around 10am, we snuck the bikes to the front door and snuck outside. We rang the doorbell a few times and sure enough, they ran to answer it. 

For us, this video has so much more meaning than two girls getting bikes.  Despite already having shared what seemed like a lot, this video was so much more.  

My own guilt in over-sharing definitely comes from a conviction of sorts.  Maybe it's feeling insensitive.  Maybe it's all in my head.  Maybe no one really thinks about these kinds of things, although, from that post I read a few years ago, I am pretty sure the parent-shaming on Christmas morning is legit.  Whatever the cause, I felt I needed to share the thoughts that I have been mulling over the last 48 hours because...

Maybe, just maybe, some of those overshared Christmas pictures on your feed have stories that meant so much more to those families than you would ever know, too. 

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