Something about this time of year makes it feel as though we are moving at warp speed. The messages bombarding us are that we need to be baking cookies, planning parties, decorating our homes, buying perfect gifts, sending holiday cards, volunteering at our children's school parties, attending their holiday concerts and on and on and on.
I want to whisper a secret into your ear. Your children are only young once, so don't forget to focus on them while they are little and precious and (exhausting). I am afraid we can get so caught up in "doing the season" that we forget what is really supposed to be at the heart of it ... our family life.
So here are a few ideas to put you back on track, so that you can enjoy the holiday season with depth and meaning rather than kill yourself attaining superficial societal seasonal success.
- Allow your children to help you decorate your home. Trying to achieve the "HGTV" perfection in domestic design doesn't belong in this season. Paper chains and snowflake cutouts are more in order. Revel in the rustic simplicity of children's artwork. They will grow up sooner than you think, and you will have plenty of time to bring your own visions on decorating to life, when you are an empty nester.
- Say no in order to say yes. In other words, turn down invitations that truly don't speak to you and feel like obligations in order to have more time to spend at home with your family. Set limits to how many invitations or activities you will commit to outside the home in a week, and then stick to it. It is not wrong to choose family over other things. Your children should be your primary focus and need to make it on to your calendar. Otherwise you are missing the opportunity to build family traditions and connections that will last a lifetime. To be blunt: don't let your babysitter decorate the tree with your kids
- Unplug to tune in. Turn off the TV, put down the iPhone, hide the Kindle Fire, and build a real fire in the fireplace, make some hot chocolate, put on some holiday music and spend an evening reading together, or baking cookies, or playing UNO, or doing a craft together.
- Be a gift to others. Give some thought to how your family can be a blessing to others. Bring cookies to your local fire station, call a retirement home and ask if you and your family can visit someone who doesn't have anyone, donate food to your local pantry, the list goes on and on. Talk with your children about performing acts of kindness and listen to their ideas.
- Embrace peace. Take a moment or two each day, to sit quietly and reflect on your blessings and how you can be a blessing to your family. Write it down or pray on it. Do whatever it takes to drown out the madness of the season and revel in the peace. This season where the days are short and the darkness is long, remember to be a light to others--to find peace and joy in within the four walls of your home, and lay the foundation for a family that strengthens its bonds during the holiday season instead of becoming frayed and frazzled.
Here's to you and your family! May you enjoy your holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!