Before I was a parent, December was a time of calm. There were a few office Christmas parties, and a little bit of shopping, but there was nothing frantic about it. We’d drive around to find the best light displays, go see a Christmas movie or two in the theatre, and just relish in the season. On Christmas morning, my husband and I would leisurely open our gifts, then head over to his mother’s house.
How times have changed.
Two kids later, and the holiday season is a lot more hectic. There are more people to buy gifts for, visits to Santa, Christmas wishlists to write, gifts to hide, pictures of the kids to take to enclose in Christmas cards, gifts to wrap secretly, classroom parties to plan, teachers to buy gifts for, all while the Chipmunks Christmas Albums blast over the stereo.
And then there’s the worries: will the kids have too much? Will they have enough? And exactly how many candy canes have they eaten anyway?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the hubbub, and it’s so hard to slow down and nurture relationships. As an attached family, we realize the importance of the kids’ connections to people rather than the things under the tree.
To this end, we do our best to make an attached holiday. Here’s what my family does:
1.) My kids get no electronic gadgets as gifts. Our gifts are simple toys that invite cooperation and imagination. Admittedly, this is difficult when many different relatives are buying gifts for our kids and who have different ideas of toys. But the gadgety toys they receive from relatives are few and far between.
2.) Our Christmas Eve is a time for family. We don’t shop, we don’t hustle about. We all work together on a Gingerbread house.
3.) Our kids have the same bedtime during the school break as they have while school’s in session. Sleep is important for their health, and even though there’s no school for two weeks, we still have to make sure they get all the shut-eye they need.
4.) I limit the amount of cookies I make. If they’re around, the kids will eat them and won’t have room for the healthy food. I know it’s a special time of year and many people believe plates of cookies around is part of the holiday. But my kids are sky-high anyway this entire month; they don’t need any help from the sugar, and I like to make sure they’ll have enough healthy energy to last them the month!
5.) Our family does Santa, but we don’t use him as a discipline tactic. The kids have no idea of the notion that they “must be good” so Santa will come; Santa doesn’t withhold his love any more than I do. Santa is an AP guy, too! Why do you think his elves are so happy?
6.) My husband and I forego the office Christmas party in lieu of spending time with the family. We don’t miss the party at all! For New Years, several friends and I have gotten together for years. When the kids arrived, it became a family friendly party. We play games, (You’ve not played Twister until you’ve played it 8 months pregnant!) eat pizza, and have a corny gift exchange. The kids are right there with us.
How does your family stay attached during this time?