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In the wise words of the little ones

Christmas seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind for obvious reasons – the annual spending spree that accompanies the season simultaneously inspires excitement in those able to spend to their heart’s content and knee-rattling panic in those barely able to afford chocolate chips for a round of holiday baking.

My family, those that share a home with me as well as those that don’t, has always been among the latter and, if I were to place a holiday wager, I’d be willing to bet that’s not going to change any time soon.

As such, we have endeavored to teach our children to find joy in those things that aren’t so reliant on our nation’s atavistic and cannibalistic tradition of consumerism – homemade treats and hot chocolate, holiday movies and living room forts, enormous feasts and the company of family, the lights dangling from a hundred different roofs and the sound of holiday songs by the likes of Nat King Cole or the Vince Guaraldi Trio – and, for the most part, they’ve learned the lesson well, which is not nearly the same as somehow being immune to the gift-lust so prominent in young children, but we’re working on it.

So, it wasn’t completely surprising, when two of the young men in our family – my son, Kieran, who is four, and my nephew, Brixton, who is six – made strange declarations in their respective Christmas requests.

My brother lives in an apartment – Brixton was tasked with writing out a Christmas list at school to be displayed in the hallway and he wrote the following: “I want for my dad to have a house.”

Move over a couple of counties and several days and I asked my son, Kieran, what he wanted for Christmas.

“I want you to stay with me every day because I miss you so much when we’re not together,” my son replied.

“Well, buddy, Daddy has to go to work,” I responded.

“But it makes me so sad,” he said giving me a hug. “I wish we could just stay together all the time.”

While on one hand my brother has to deal with the elementary school optics that he’s homeless and I have to endure the internal battle of wondering if my children really see me as a semi-absentee father – for the record, neither sentiment comes close to being accurate – it also proves that our children are learning what’s important in life.

My son loves superheroes and fire trucks and baseball, but the number one thing on his Christmas list was having me at home more; my nephew loves kung fu and video games, but the number one thing on his Christmas list was a house for his dad – simply put, our boys put us ahead of any other thing their little minds could conjure for Christmas.

While explaining how these gifts are even more difficult to attain than the plastic trappings their classmates might ask for, our boys gave my brother and I the greatest Christmas gift of all – two little boys, still too young to understand the weight or wisdom of their words, that want for their fathers and their families more than anything else.

Without the multi-colored lights, the oversized trees, the ridiculously overpriced and unnecessary gifts, the belly-rattling quantities of candy, the rude and inhumane crowds busy at their capitalist duties, the sadistic seasonal songs that play over and over and over again, the holiday would be all the merrier with the melody of our children’s wise words.

The young men in our family – who will one day be the men leading our family and teaching the next generation that love, the greatest gift one can give to another, can’t be bought or wrapped – may never know the gift they’ve given to their fathers this year, but it is a gift that won’t go out of fashion, won’t break or need repairs, won’t require upgrades or updates, and will be cherished and, hopefully replicated, as long as our family continues to gather for the holidays.