Tuesday, December 14, 2010

children deserve beauty

Christmas is less than two weeks away and I realize every year that tis' the season for plastic junk. We North Americans are addicted to plastic in our throwaway world and immerse our children in it. It is everywhere, but no where more prevalent than in toys. We have somehow come to believe as a culture that children are not worth giving good quality, beautiful things to. We buy them the cheapest of everything thinking "they are just kids, they are going to wreck it anyway." I have a different belief.

Children, like the rest of us not only appreciate beautiful things, they crave them. They can see the beauty in the smallest of things, a leaf falling from a tree, a bird on a branch, the way the light shines through watermelon on a sunny day. Their little souls seek out the beauty and mystery of life all around them. Beauty also tells them that the world is a good, safe place, a message they need so much when they are little. So why wouldn't we bring beauty in a conscious way into our homes to continue to nurture that impulse in them?

I was at Superstore last night and was overwhelmed by the plastic, crappy toys spilling over the isles. I know that most of that stuff will have a play life of about a week. Then the kids will get bored of it, pieces will be lost and mum fed up with stepping on little plastic pieces will throw it away. It's not beautiful, it doesn't feel good in the hand and it is not meant to last.

We talk so much about living green and reducing our consumption, but when it comes to children, we somehow think that not longer applies. So here is my thought. When we create beautiful spaces for our children and give them things that not only look good, but also feel good in the hands, they learn to appreciate and care for what they have. There is a soul connection to what they see and hold and the idea that we could just throw it away is no longer a possibility.

Now, I know that the natural toy business has exploded in the past few years and most of the things that are for sale can be really expensive. Somehow the idea of quality not quantity has gotten lost even in this well intentioned world. But it is up to us as parents to choose carefully what we give our children. Do we fill the tree with whatever it takes to make it look full? Or do we give a little less, but in actuality more because it is something truly lovely that doesn't need a bunch of other stuff around it?

Beauty doesn't need to cost much. A candle on the supper table, branches from outside on a nature table or homemade toys, all bring the qualities into the home that children love so much. My 6 year old son and I made this window star together last night. The pack of paper that we barely made a dent in only cost $5.95. We spent time together, created something really beautiful and when we were done, he said, "Let's save this for next year." This is the whole point. Create something to last, make it beautiful and subtly you teach them to cherish the world around them. Beauty speaks to their souls as it does to ours.

So this Christmas consider what you are buying for your children. Ask yourself, "Is this beautiful? Would I want to look at it or hold it? Is it destined for the landfill or will it stand the test of time?" All children deserve all the beauty that this world holds. Less really is more for them.

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