One of the best aspects about our friends that we've made in Nicaragua is that we have similar parenting styles. We want our kids to have a great time, appreciate what the get, and keep it simple. One of the moms asked us ahead of time if we were going to keep Christmas low key. My wife responded by saying, "Oh yes, they are each getting one good present and a couple of small ones." The other mom, who recently moved here, responded with visible relief by saying, "It has gotten crazy in the states with gifts and that she wished to scale back on all of the stuff." We chuckled and joked about how she entered the "No stuff zone" when she chose to live in Granada.
As for the kids, they all survived their spartan Christmas, I promise. In fact, as I was tucking the girls into bed after all the celebrations were done and Sierra said, "Dad, this was the best Christmas ever." It got my wife and I thinking about the unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves to make things just right. Heck, I even remember in years past that our daughters' favorite gifts were the cardboard boxes the toys came in, and that's the truth. For the record, I am not saying we should give children cardboard boxes as gifts, although the thought did cross my mind a time or two. What kids want most is togetherness, plain and simple.
The lady, mentioned above, who recently moved to Granada, had an epiphany, and I just want to share it with you. For all the parents out there who racked up huge bills buying presents so that they can be sold for next to nothing at the next garage sale, we understand. We were there once too. You are not a servant to your children, serving their every beckoning call. It is okay to say no. You are not a concierge service and they are not your boss. Things don't make people happy, experiences do.
Speaking of experiences, this Christmas season was a series of loosely connected parties, BBQs, fiestas and anything else a group of 30 to 50 friends can do. The kids played until they passed out, the moms solved every issue known to man, and the dads spoke pure gibberish and burst out laughing every 27 seconds. Being part of the dad group I can assure you that nothing was solved other than planning the next party. We capped our Christmas festivities on the slopes of Mombacho volcano at our friend's parents house in the jungle.