One of my favorite memories of fall from my childhood is coming home from school one day and seeing the our house turned into a festive Halloween spectacular.
My family had never really decorated for Halloween before. We always went trick-or-treating, but the whole Halloween scene was not really our thing as a family. We dressed up as angels, fairies, rag-dolls; things that were fun but not scary. Ghoulish garb and horror based themes just didn't sit well with three girls growing up in our house.
One afternoon, I walked in the front door and was completely amazed. While I was at school, my mom decorated our dining room with little ghosts hanging from the ceiling, cotton cobwebs in the corners and black and orange decorations through out the room. The decorations were innocuous, cute simple decorations, but they were created from my mom's heart - solely for the enjoyment of her daughters. But, to me, it looked like a Halloween wonderland.
Everyday I am amazed at the extent that we, as mothers - or fathers, will go to ensure our kids happiness. I am also amazed at how complicated we have made the process of ensuring their happiness. We try to do it with big gifts, expensive clothes, the most incredible trips, all in an effort to make sure their life experience in the short time that they have with us is amazing.
Now some may disagree with me, but I think we overdo it. We shower them with the best "things", trying to make sure that what they have is at least as good or better than what their friends have. By giving stuff, we think that they are fulfilled and happy. But does that really make them any happier? Does that make them feel any better about themselves?
I know that walking into my house that afternoon after school, I felt loved, and lacking for nothing. The only "things" that were given to me were some tissues suspended from the ceiling by paper clips and a some old quilt batting stretched and pulled to look like cobwebs. But the intangible thing I was given that day, was knowing that my mom did this simple gesture because she loved me.
How do you try to ensure children's happiness? Are you a giver of things? Or, are you a giver of the gifts from your heart?