As we approach the craziness of the holiday season, I find myself taking more and more deep breaths. Trying NOT to get sucked into all the glitz, hype and credit card debt! It's hard, I know! But this year I have made a promise to myself to keep it calm, family centered and to NOT bust the budget.
I don't know about you, but I LOVE Christmas. I love all the decorating, the songs, the parades, the brunches, the parties...you name it and I want to do it all. I usually try, fail miserably, stress myself and my kids out, and spend waaaaaaaaaayyyyy too much money. And then I get upset when my kids are cranky and refuse to take yet ANOTHER photo! This year I am being more conscious about OUR choices. And I mean OUR choices. Usually I make the choices and the rest of my crew gets dragged along with about as much input as our cat.
As my kids get older, I want them to remember Christmas, and every holiday, with the fondness that I do. So I decided to reflect on WHY I love Christmas (all holidays really) so much. And it boils down to family time. My dad worked 4 jobs when I was a kid, so he wasn't around a lot. We did not go to brunch with Santa or any parades. We did not go see the Nutcracker or any fancy holiday light shows. I love the holidays because we spent extra time together as family, watching specials on TV, decorating our home, sledding down our front hill, caroling with friends and neighbors, and just being a family.
So as everything starts revving up and I am tempted to say yes to it all, I remind myself what is really important........Family Time. And I will ask my kids what they want to do, and I will schedule down time (because I have to - because I'm crazy). Maybe we will spend an entire day in our PJ's watching Christmas shows and drinking hot chocolate. Maybe we'll go sledding or ice skating. Maybe we will go to brunch or the Nutcracker. But only if we ALL want to and if we are not so over-scheduled that it stresses us out.
We are making our Christmas gifts instead of buying them this year. We will ask grandparents and family for experiences as gifts instead of things. I will shop second hand for as much as possible (I usually do this anyway). Because a lot of stress is caused by the amount of money spent (at least for me) and that isn't what gift giving should be about. It should be about showing loved ones that you care and are thinking of them. I don't know about you, but I'd trade a gift for time with a loved one any day!
Yes, when all the party invitations arrive and the friends are going to see this and do that, it will be very hard to say no. Yes, when I end up in the stores, it will be very difficult not to buy everything my kids' hearts desire. But there will be other parties and we can see our friends all year. And things are just that...........things. Now is the time to teach my children to be thankful, and caring, and family oriented during the holiday season - instead of modeling over-scheduling, commercialism, and chaos. Now, more than any other time all year, is the time to teach charity, cooperation and humility. These are the lessons that were passed down to me. These are lessons that will stay with them for life. And these are lessons that I hope they one day pass on.