While photographing this cute boy, I asked, “So what do you want for Christmas?”

“Hmm, not really anything,” he replied, “I already have a lot.”


Eleven-year-old Isaac isn’t a kid with a cell phone, an iPad or a TV in his room, but he is well-clothed, well-fed and adored by his parents. His dad always makes time to shoot hoops in the driveway or drill math facts; his mother celebrates daily life in a thousand little ways.

Much is said this time of year about selfish kids penning mile long Christmas lists and demanding the latest toys and electronics. I’ll make the assertion that kids do feel greedy at Christmas– they want more of our time.

Xander recently created a Christmas wish list filled with items like:

make homemade peppermint oreos (check!)
read a Christmas story every night
go to mountains to cut Christmas tree
make gingerbread houses
cut paper snowflakes
go to the festival of trees
see the lights downtown
set up train under the Christmas tree
act out the Nativity
light the candle chimes (check!)

it goes on….


You may recall Xander asserting he’d like my attention 25 hours a day. I honestly don’t think he’s that unusual. Children love the magic and pageantry of the Christmas season; gifts are just a small part of the celebrations.

Now don’t get me wrong; I love presents. I delight in creating or finding just the right surprise and I am often so excited that I can scarcely keep a secret. More than once I’ve insisted that someone open a gift a week early because I can’t wait another moment.

I’m certainly not suggesting any child with a Christmas list is selfish. Dreaming of a gift outside of usual purchases is part of the magic of childhood. When else can a child ask for a doll or a new Lego set?

I still remember Ben and Stefan’s excitement over this train Christmas 1996; if only all our gifts lasted this long.

“Entitlement” is another negative word oft applied to today’s children. It seems unfair to label an entire generation as selfish and lazy. I’ll suggest our children are entitled– to our time. The Proclamation to the Family reads, “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.

Isaac’s baby sister Grace

I suppose I’m a defender of kids as much as I’m a defender of teenagers. Kids are good, good, good– it’s only we adults who mess us they world; who turn Christmas into a commercial circus.

My apologies if my words are preachy, I write this as a reminder to myself this season– if I’m too busy for my children, I’m simply too busy.

Now off to mix up three batches of gingerbread…we’ve got a list to tackle.

December 8, 2011



  1. Tasha

    December 6, 2011

    Love, love, love this post – as always. You always put things so well.

  2. Blue

    December 6, 2011

    “Dreaming of a gift outside of usual purchases is part of the magic of childhood. When else can a child ask for a doll or a new Lego set?”

    I’m stumped this year because I LOVE creating magic for my kids, and infusing their (rapidly disappearing) childhoods with moments and memories that will last forever.

    But this year? This year one of my children has their heart set on one thing, and one thing only. BUT: this one thing is WAAAAAAY out of budget, so they know that there is no way they will get this one thing, and so their heart is broken and they’ve been reduced into a covetous, jealous soup of emotions. Besides, lots of their friends will undoubtedly get way more stuff than this one thing costs. So it’s the whole life’s so unfair issue. And I don’t know how to deal with it. Feeling like a less-and-less successful mommy lately because of certain things. I keep hoping I’ll have a flash of insight that I can stick in my Wand and wave to make everything better.

    Can I just come live under your magical tree for 3 weeks? ♥

  3. Brooke

    December 6, 2011

    all i want for the next 10 christmases is to be able to take pictures the way you do.

    beautiful, as always. and all of it.


  4. Tracy

    December 6, 2011

    Love this – and I think we will make snowflakes tonight. xo

  5. Julie

    December 6, 2011

    Just lovely.

    And I too believe in children. And teenagers.

    I have a 14-year-old and an almost 13-year-old.

    And if you asked them what they love most about the holidays, they’d say “Being with our whole family.”

    I promise.

  6. Kit Linkous

    December 6, 2011

    as an amen to this, ryn has been filling a notebook with an alphabetical picture list of the fun things we DO at christmas–decorate, sing carols, laugh, etc. not one thing that we get. loving every minute

  7. ashli

    December 6, 2011

    so true michelle! loving those pics in black and white…

    you are the best! and just being with you is a constant reminder to me that time and love is all our kids really want. i loved gabe sitting on your lap while editing. i love the lists of xander and i love the way your kids feel “entitled” to your love! it is so obvious and so right!

    thanks for posting!

  8. Jen

    December 6, 2011

    I just found your beautiful blog through my friend Julie G. What a treat. Time to start some new home grown Hanukah traditions.

  9. Elaine A.

    December 8, 2011

    Tracy sent me.

    You take amazing photographs and your words certainly ring true.

    Happy Holidays!!

  10. Cath

    December 9, 2011

    Michelle – I love this so much. I’ve been thinking about it ever since our conversation. “Children are greedy for our time.” It is so true. There is much joy to be had, relationships to strengthen and build… for the price of our time. Thanks for pointing this out. I love you.

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