Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Holidays (to good neighbors only -- the rest of you go to hell)

Since my son will turn 2 soon after Christmas, he's more aware this year than last of what Being Good means, in terms of a visit from Santa. But not aware enough that he should receive a lump of coal for all his temper tantrums, biting and smashing of tree ornaments ("BALL!" he yells as he throws it into a wall). I suppose by next year he might start to grasp the concept that good behavior is rewarded by Santa, while misbehavior threatens to cut off the good stuff. Which gets me to thinking about the misbehaving children of bad neighbors, whose kids have been taught to disrespect those around them, to be selfish and petulant. The lessons aren't formalized -- it's learned misbehavior.

Christmas is generally a chance to get stuff we don't deserve and don't need. But throughout the year it's important to remind our kids that when they treat others well, they're showing good character and building a better future for themselves. Good behavior is its own reward.

Since that's not an easy concept for kids, if they were particularly nice to a neighbor -- maybe they shoveled the sidewalk of the lady next door who lives alone, or sent packaged toys to children in need whom they've never met, or even helped a friend next door with homework or a project, maybe there ought to be something special under the tree as an acknowledgement. Having a physical reward reminds us, no matter how old we are, that as we shall reap so shall we sow.

So, Merry Christmas, good neighbors. May you have much cheer to spread.

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