“I just wanted the Millennium Falcon for Christmas,” sings John Anealio in the song of the same name. It is the tale of boy’s dearest Christmas wish in the late 1970s. It is a song that hits very close to my own experience. I’m a child of the Star Wars generation – as a seven-year old, I saw Star Wars several times in 1977. A generation later, I was incensed when George Lucas defiled my memories. I collected nearly two dozen of the original action figures – a collection that I was able to keep through several moves and into adulthood. And I too wanted a Millennium Falcon for Christmas – but unlike Mr. Anealio, I never got one.
Instead, I made one. Possibly more than one. The most notable was crafted from Lego, complete with secret compartments for my action figures to hide in. I also made myself an AT-AT from Lego after watching Empire Strikes Back. And a dozen other vehicles and playscapes, all from Legos and wooden blocks and the other materials I had available.
All of which makes me very geeky, but also gives me rich childhood memories. Memories I would not necessarily have had if I had gotten what I wanted for Christmas.
Which brings me to my question for you. I have the ability to give my children so much more than my parents did for me. I am financially better positioned. I have access to internet shopping, which means I don’t have to drive to another town to find the “one thing” they want and will be “good this year” for. I have access to more and cooler toys due to sheer availability of stuff. And by and large, I have given them more – things they want, things I think they should want.
But am I somehow doing them a disservice in doing so? Am I taking away some opportunity from them by providing them with their fondest dream? By getting them pre-crafted licensed vehicles and playscapes? Is disappointment a driver of creativity that I am denying them by trying to make Christmas magical?
What are your experiences? As a child? As a parent? How have they colored your world?