Designer Gifts at a Kindergarten Party

“For three and a half months my daughter waited for her turn to be the “Mommy of Shabbat” at the kindergarten Shabbat Party. Why did she come home crying? Designer gifts at the party for Kabbalat Shabbat, isn’t that ridiculous?”  This unfortunate loss of proportions is what is happening around Israel and perhaps elsewhere too. Yael Shlish-Peretz posted in her Facebook calling out to parents to end the insanity and bring back the simplicity and purity that used to exist.

Here’s her post:

“For three and a half months my daughter waited for her turn to be the “Mommy of Shabbat”. Mommy when will Chanukah come because she knows her turn is after Chanukah. It sounds dramatic but for a small child it’s everything; sitting next to the Ganenet (kindergarten teacher) tying a kerchief on her head and lighting Shabbat Candles!”

“This has nothing to do with faith or from which home you come from, it’s the one moment of simplicity and truth so festive and it theirs. Her Friday finally came. The day before she baked a cake with her abba because the “Ima (Mommy) of Shabbat” needs to bring a cake and the “Abba (Father) of Shabbat needs to bring two challot (Shabbat breads). What can be more special and truthful than baking a cake or challot with your mother or father?”

“Six in the morning she’s already up! Telling everyone step by step what she will do in her role as “Mommy of Shabbat”. Her enthusiasm was dripping out of her eyes and it was wonderful. She went to her gan (kindergarten) with a candy topped chocolate cake full of pride and feeling. She left me running to her teacher to begin her festive day!”

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Lunch time; her parents hoping to see their daughter happy and full of happy things that happened to share with her parents were shocked when they saw her. “I saw that alongside the happiness my own daughter was sad. She was crying when we left the gan. But that’s okay I thought; I assumed that she was emotional about her experience and the sudden letdown in tension is what caused it and I hugged her.”

“I hugged her choking back tears and helped her smile again, but who will help me smile?”

A few days later Yael got pictures from the party in an e mail from her teacher. “I looked at the pictures and one of them disturbed me but I continued looking at the others.  , explained Yael. “The picture shows a nicely set Shabbat table with my daughter at the end of the table holding her candy topped chocolate cake. But she wasn’t even looking at her cake; she was looking at the big basket full of designer gifts the “Shabbat Abba” brought; a whole mountain of gifts with notes attached with the “Shabbat Abba’s” name on them. This was in the middle of the ceremony and instead of it.”

“When I asked my daughter how it was being “Mommy of Shabbat” she didn’t talk about the candles or the blessing on the candles and not about the challot. She said one thing; “child x said the cake was disgusting and all the children threw it in the garbage”. This was my daughter’s experience of the day she so much waited for. The need to compete in a Shabbat Party under the auspices of the “gan” killed all the magic. I hugged her choking back tears and with kind words helped her smile again.”

But who will help me smile again?” shouts Yael. In her post she begs desperately that the parents should take heed: “Parents, please stop. Why are designer gifts necessary at any pure and enchanting ceremony? Why ruin such simple and beautiful things? Our children do not need sugar wrapped special candies with a picture of their friends on it to be happy! They need a simple chocolate cake with candies on top and they need to bake it with their parents and they need a big hug full of love!”

“Please stop it and if you don’t, at least consider your impact on society. What does this do to us? It brings competition, haughtiness, belittling, defeat and the glorification of nothing! The children’s standards of what makes them excited get out of control and afterwards we wonder why they are insolent and disrespectful thinking they are entitled to everything! I have not yet seen a child happier because of a fancy gift than he was when getting a piece of chocolate cake. Perhaps the mothers were happier but I doubt it. So please stop it!”


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