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Pressure to meet the 'movie image' of Christmas

My son's Santa list includes a new toboggan, but also a laptop computer. Hisbrother wants a cellphone and unlimited texting package.

Barb Higgins is moving fast through my neighbourhood.


My son found her discarded mayoral candidate sign. He’s using it as a sleigh and stores it under the porch.


“Nice and waxy,” he says. But fraying.


So his Santa list includes a new toboggan, but also a laptop computer. His brother wants a cellphone and unlimited texting package.


So Santa expectation management is swinging into action.


I’m not the first to wonder how a religious holiday became a toy fest. And expensive electronics have upped the ante.


I thank the Three Wise Men for bringing Jesus only three gifts in total. “Look at the Bible,” I tell my kids, three gifts is the accurate number to receive.


But there’s no just fighting the pressure to provide a Christmas toy. Sorry, toys, plural.
Across the city, charities are working hard to ensure there’s no kid without a gift on Dec. 25.
The Salvation Army’s “adopt a family” program provides the most gifts. But families can only use this once.


For women who still need gifts for kids, the Women’s Centre of Calgary tries to pick up the slack with its Toy Room, open through to Dec. 22.


Women who use the centre can try to find a toy for their child: Infant to 18 years of age.
Like many agencies, demand is up and donations are down.


The Toy Room has 400 gifts and the agency expects it needs another 1,600, especially for eight to 12 year olds.


There’s a huge amount of pressure on families to meet a “movie image” of Christmas, notes Women’s Centre executive director Susan Gillies, “If you’re the child that has nothing when everyone else is back in school talking about their gifts, it’s pretty hard.”


And non-Christian families? They need gifts, too. “There’s incredible pressure to be involved, if not in the religious part, the gift-giving part, the meals,” Gillies says.


I may not like the way Christmas has become a commercial venture, but, like you, I hate the thought of a kid without a gift.


For the Toy Room, I’ve packed up some new boys sport performance T-shirts, a few new board games, and some earring and necklace sets.


And Christmas in our house?


I suspect my son won’t have any more fun on a new sleigh than on that waxy campaign sign.


The Women’s Centre is at 646 Ave. NE at Edmonton Trail, and its phone number is 403-264-1155.

 
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