I’m not a mom yet, but you can bet that I have all kinds of ideas stored up for when I do have children. I want to be that mom that hides Nerf guns around the house for a surprise attack. I can’t wait for days at the library, drawing with chalk on the driveway, and of course, inspiring wonder and awe during the holiday season. I’ve already got a head start as evidenced by a few of my Pinterest boards!
This time of year more than any other, families with little children are doing their best to create traditions and memories. I think it’s these memories, grounding us in a sense of belonging, that carry us through when we are adults and the world is a little tougher than we anticipated. I loved spending hours, even days, with my grandmother, aunties, and mom, baking the day away. Flour was flying, more sugar was eaten than we’d had all year, and I think every time I hear the word “Christmas,” for the rest of my life, those images will be present in my mind. We’d bake dozens upon dozens of Christmas treats, and hand-deliver them to everyone we knew.
What I don’t remember is the frantic aspect of these last few weeks of the year. Running around like a maniac going from event to event, and scouring the mall until the very last opportunity. I get dizzy just thinking about the schedules that some of us keep this time of year! Does anyone else take a peek at the December calendar and wonder what happened to each and every weekend? We used to make time for things that really matter. Things like game nights, long conversations over hot cocoa, or making a special trip to the theater for a Nutcracker feature. What about sitting around and just singing Christmas music? It’s a miracle each season if I even get around to watching my favorite movies like White Christmas or The Holiday, to say nothing about losing myself in a seasonal novel by the tree.
I feel like a dinosaur when I say it, but it seems these days we feel the pressure to “do it all” for the holidays. There are Christmas concerts at school. There’s last-minute work that simply has to be done in the fourth quarter. We have to clean, prep, and cook for family coming into town. If not, we’re packing and coordinating travel plans. And all while the days get shorter and shorter! I know I can’t be the only one who has been up until midnight several nights in a row with the kitchen in complete disarray. All those sacred family moments we longed for seem to come in second place, or worse, we get to January 1st and wonder why we never seemed to have time to do all the things we really wanted to do.
What if we all vowed to avoid that awful feeling of regret this year? Yes, family will come and we will have work to do. But healthy boundaries can be a saving grace during the holidays; you don’t have to succumb to the pressure of saying yes to every single event or obligation that comes your way. In our family, we’ve made it a priority to focus on the experiences of Christmas rather than all the stuff. It seems everyone agreed and echoed this sentiment of never having enough time to do all the things we REALLY want to do to celebrate.
So we took requests. One sibling wanted a family ice skating night, complete with hot drinks afterwards. Another sister opted to host a baking day for everyone, all together! We’re in the process of making a list of all the different kinds of cookies we’ll bake, incorporating a little bit of everyone’s favorites. We can’t do every idea we’ve come up with, but we are being intentional about choosing what accomplishes the goal: spending time with each other. We even have tickets to go see an orchestra performance (music from one of my favorites—Home Alone – if you can believe that)! Somehow we found nine seats, all in one row. I just know it is going to be absolutely magical.
If you feel like me, don’t be afraid to do things a bit differently this year. Your holiday season doesn’t have to be a marathon where you arrive at the finish line of December 25th out of breath and out of money. We all need to give ourselves permission to slow it down. I know that I’m looking forward to it and our little nephews probably won’t even notice that there aren’t as many gifts under the tree this year. They’ll love having the opportunity to play and laugh with the group of aunts and uncles that love them so dearly.
Quality time speaks volumes. It says, “you’re valuable and worth my time – the one commodity that cannot be replaced.” I’m certainly not knocking gift giving, but I encourage you to make space this holiday season for what’s most important to you. Make sure you intentionally grab those sacred moments! It did take some effort to get everyone’s input and make plans, but it’s worth it. Honestly, for one of the first times in my life, I’m not panicked or feeling stressed about the next few weeks. I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest, and you should too!