As a parent, this is most definitely "Go Time." And while festivities and traditions are important, perspective is also essential to fully enjoying this season. We can be swept into a forgetfulness, a type of holiday-induced amnesia, about the nature of time and resources. But this too shall pass.
So, in the joy and the stress, in the purchasing and wrapping, amid the baking and the mailing, keep these handful of truths in mind:
- There is life after the Christmas season. It helps to picture yourself in January: What will you be doing? What will life be like? This mental preparation can help in the transition back to your regularly scheduled winter life.
- These kids will still belong to you after the holidays. After the tidal wave of wrapping paper on Christmas morning, their minds will be filled with one glaring question: NOW WHAT? Remember, you are not (only) the event coordinator. You are the parent, and the answerer of their questions. Pull them close and answer that question. Now we snuggle. Now we play. Now we nap. Now we help clean up together. Now we talk about what we liked, and what we look forward to. Gifts are fun, but what feeds their hearts and nurtures their brains are the consistent acts of showing up in their lives. Our brains aren't wired to thrive off of dazzling stimuli all the time. It's exhausting. The simple act of being together conveys the message that they are important, that they still belong, even when they (and you!) are feeling exhausted, cranky, and coming down off of holiday overwhelm.
- These other people will still be your family after the holidays. So play nice. Before you visit or host your extended family, take a moment to decide how you're going to behave. Notice how you're feeling. Are you excited? Stressed? Are there points of conflict you're afraid will come up with some people? If you wait until the time comes to figure out how to act/react, you're sunk. Remember, you cannot control anybody else but yourself. Now is the time to decide what you will and won't do. Now is the time to decide that you will forgive those boorish relatives ahead of time. Or you will spend time with your quiet niece, asking her questions until you find SOMETHING to talk about. Be the hand to reach across the generations. These people will still be your family after the holidays. If you choose your behavior ahead of time, then afterward you will feel better: less resentful, and perhaps with this amended perspective, more loving.
- Your bank account will still be in your name after the gifts. Ouch. This is not a financial advice blog, but simply keeping this one fact in mind might help when your cart is fuller than you intended. You deeply love your friends and family, and want to shower them with gifts. But none of them will be paying your balance in January. The card will not be in their name. The bill will not be sent to their address. It will be sent to yours. Keep an eye to your balance. Letting yourself keep some of your hard-earned money may be one of the best Christmas presents of all.
- Your school will be re-enrolling soon. What do you like about your school? What would you improve? Do you plan to re-enroll? If your children attend PHCS, January is the PERFECT time to sit down with Mrs. See: whether you choose to re-enroll or not. Praying as a family about your decision now is key. If you're NOT planning on re-enrolling, Mrs. See still wants 15 minutes of your time. Your feedback is gold! The honest conversation could open doors for school improvement or can tend to the relationship if different paths are taken. No hard feelings. It would be terrible if she didn't see your dear children at school next year and never knew why. This is the strength of our little school: we communicate as a family. Her door is always open. In fact, she has taken the door off of its hinges, literally!