John LENNON asked, "So this is Christmas, and what have you done?"
Not enough, I find myself thinking.
Once again it's taken the prodding of others to remind me I can do more. Hopefully this column will do the same for you.
Last year I wrote about showing my daughter Christmas was more than gifts and how much one received. Generosity and charity mean more, at this time and throughout the year, was the message -- even if I don't always live up to my own words.
I'm watching her share with her friends and take joy from personal interactions more than from material goods. And in her actions, she's once again teaching me as much I can ever hope to show her.
The other day at her tumbling class, a little girl pushed her out of the first spot in line. She told me about it after and I asked her what she did about it. She explained she didn't push back but let the girl move ahead.
I'll admit, my first reaction wasn't so benevolent. The words, "Next time, push her right back," were on the tip of my tongue. Thankfully my wife has been urging me (read: demanding) to bury my inner caveman as deep as possible.
So, instead of blurting out this reckless advice, I stopped and thought for a moment. Something for which I'm not exactly famous.
After looking down at her for a minute, I asked what happened next. She said the girl's mother came over, talked with her daughter, then they turned to my little one and said, "Sorry." Then my girl got to go down the slide first.
Growing up the way I did, this wasn't the solution the boys in my neighborhood chose. A shove called for a punch in the lips. Push back or be pushed around went the thinking.
I have been -- and can still be -- mean and vindictive. I've always chalked it up to survival in the real world and having to scrap for the little corner of the planet I call my own.
But that's just a rationalization for poor behaviour. Behaviour, I should add, I don't want my daughter to emulate.
Maybe she'll be a little softer than me and maybe she'll come second a few times when a little extra aggression would have earned her first spot.
But may grace and kindness be her first reaction rather than anger and hate.
Do I want my daughter to succeed? Of course. Do I want my daughter to love and respect others? More than anything else.
The other day I was asked by the folks at TSN 1290 to read a few lines for the Christmas Miracle Toy and Cash Drive. Then my boss at the Free Press asked me to write this column for the Christmas Cheer Board.
Once again, I began to think about what this time of year should be about. And once again it brought me back to my daughter and the lessons we're teaching each other.
The tag line in the radio ad was, "Because Christmas should happen for everyone."
It should. So my daughter's done her part and shown me a thing or two this year. Now it's time for me to return the favour. Last year, I took her out to pick a tree and then we bought a gift and dropped it off at the TSN toy drive. We also made a donation to the Cheer Board so they can deliver hampers to the less fortunate.
She's only three and I don't know how much of this is sinking in, but we'll do it again this year and try to make it a yearly tradition. She'll get it.
Her old man's another story. Doing the right thing doesn't always come natural. But if she keeps showing me lessons, maybe some year it won't take one of my bosses asking, for me to chip in. Maybe I'll volunteer because generosity will be front of mind and not hanging in the back of my closet with my favourite Christmas sweater.
Maybe this will inspire you to come up with a toy or some cash. I bet your kids would do it. Follow them. They're wise beyond their years.
Please send your donations to The Spirit of Christmas, c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, R2X 3B6 or call the Free Press classified department at 204-697-7100 to make a credit card donation.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @garylawless