cason zarroWhat an exciting time of the year! The days are getting shorter, and the wish lists are getting longer. My evening walks have been so pleasant as neighbors are putting up twinkling lights that add such cheer to an otherwise gloomy night.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my children’s experience to be of this season. What do I want them to remember, and what do I hope they are looking forward to?

No matter what your spiritual beliefs, I think it’s safe to say we all want the hearts of our children to be filled with joy and thankfulness, excitement and wonder.

Beautiful, soft candle light, delicious food, a crackling fire, laughter, togetherness and happiness are what the winter holidays are about to me.  This is the time we pull out board games and laugh until our sides hurt with cousins from afar.

I haven’t been to Denmark, but apparently this warm feeling of connection has a word in Danish. They call it “hygge,” pronounced hi-ga with a short i.

My New Year’s resolution last year was to bring more hygge into our lives.

I enlisted the help of a friend, rearranged the living room, added warm lighting, added more pillows and created a welcoming, cozy room that practically begged my family to relax into it at the end of the day. As if by magic, the whole family naturally gravitated to the living room, a room that was previously used mainly for walking through. Sometimes we read, sometimes we snuggle, and many times we talk and recant our days.

These simple changes have brought our family closer and changed our whole feeling about our home. The spirit of the holidays can indeed live throughout the year!

In consciously trying to draw my children’s focus away from gifts, gifts, gifts during this time of the year, I encourage my children to talk excitedly about who we are going to see, what family members will be present, the fun games we will play and the predictable traditions we look forward to at our celebration. This is the time of year I bring out our special German candle holders with miniature people who dance by the power of the heat of the flames.

My family draws names for gift giving, and I love the opportunity to take each child shopping for a special gift for the family member whose name they drew. It gives us a chance to think in depth about that person and what they might like.

In remembering holidays past, we often remember the overall feeling, or a special event or tradition. The specific gifts are mostly lost in the mists of time.

I hope we can all give our children what they really want: our time and our love. They likely won’t remember the details, but they will remember the feelings and the connection.

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