Earlier this year my family and I went to a theme park, armed with early admission, express passes and a thousand tips on how to make the most of the park. That first morning I woke up bright and early ready to seize the day! I stood there and watched my family sleeping in bed, as memories of past theme park experiences began to surface. The not so magical memories that included, “Hurry up!”, “we paid a lot of money”, “stop complaining”, “you’re not tired – we still have hours left to ride” and many more! It was in that moment that I realized I had a choice to make. We could maximize our dollars and have the “perfect” theme park experience, but
Did riding every ride matter to me or to my family?
I decided for myself, that enjoying family time and creating memories was most important. Not riding every ride. Later that morning when my family got out of bed, we discussed what was most important to them on this trip. Turns out, we could plan to take advantage of one early entrance to do some important attractions and the rest of the time we all just wanted to enjoy our time together, which is hard to do sleep deprived, hungry or running around. As the holidays are nearing, it’s easy to get caught up in doing them “perfectly”. The picture-perfect decorations, home cooked meals, ideal gifts, perfect holiday vacation and more. All that is wonderful, if that’s what’s important to you, but be wary of doing things for the wrong reasons.
1. What is important to you? What do you want your holiday memories to consist of?
If you’re like me, creating the perfect looking house and meal does not come without stress! And that’s okay. If the holidays are about certain traditions that bring you joy, even if not during preparation, but after, then explain to your family that you may not have time for them during preparation. You love them, and want to spend quality time with them, but that will have to be after your to do list is done. If all that matters to you is to have a Christmas tree up and a warm meal, then do that. If your priority is spending time with your family, then have everyone join you in decorating or in the kitchen or order food in. Are there traditions or experiences you want to pass along, like caroling or Christmas lights? Prioritize those.
2. What is important to your immediate family?
We had a great discussion the other night about love languages. Turns out that none of my family share my love language of service. It’s helped me be a mother, but no one feels the need to serve me, and no one notices the extra miles I go to serve them. I could probably get away with doing half as much and get noticed more by giving in their love languages. My siblings and parents have very different memories about the exact same events in our past. Some of my best memories are my mom’s worst and vice versa. We all bring our unique lens to each experience. This year I paid an absurd amount of money for Christmas lights on our house, but it was important to all of us. At the same time, we have a small Christmas tree in our great room, because it doesn’t matter. I might add it’s also not color coordinated and magazine worthy, because we have our special favorite ornaments, bought and homemade, that we put on the tree together each year. My daughter’s love languages are quality time and words of affirmation. My husband and son enjoy physical touch. None of us rank gift receiving high on the list. We are prioritizing more time together on a little vacation, rather than buying more gifts.
3. Slow down
Last year we were planning to host my side of the family for Christmas when I came down with the Coronavirus. After grieving what was going to be an amazing family get together in our newly built house, we moved on to “Saving Christmas!”. Quarantined, I couldn’t make last minute shopping trips, which ended up being amazing! I rested when I felt tired, and I spent time with my family when I didn’t. As a family, we ate what we wanted, when we wanted it. We made new rules on opening gifts and had the least amount of presents under the tree. The food was limited, and we had the fewest members of our family present. We slowed down and enjoyed each other, and it has gone down in history as one of our favorite Christmas’s in memory!
4. Thoughtful Gifts
Obviously, we want our gifts to be something that the other person will enjoy, but I mean this in another way. We want to make holidays so special that we buy everything on the list or that thing they really want without thinking of the implications. Pets cause the best Christmas morning reactions! But is your child mature enough to take care of an animal? Are you all home enough? Does it make financial sense? Electronic devices and smartphones also create excitement! Does your child have the maturity to take care of an expensive piece of equipment? Do you plan to have boundaries or rules in place? Do you have an app, like Bark to monitor and enforce rules? Have you discussed pornography, addiction, and depression with your child? Do you have good communication? I found once my kids reached a certain age all they wanted were electronics. I’ve found that this can easily be overcome with a little nudge and this Christmas list downloaded here. It’s divided into categories to help your kids think outside the electronic gift box.
My favorite thing about the holidays is giving (no surprise considering my love language is acts of service!). A couple years ago I was not looking forward to Christmas. My kids had recently found out about Santa, and I was afraid the magic would be gone! To my surprise, it turned out to be one of our most magical Christmases, because my kids learned about the magic of giving. We live in a self-absorbed culture, where people are hungry to be seen or receive. Even if your kids don’t have money of their own, they can make a gift or get an allotted amount from you. Thoughtfully choosing a gift for someone else is a kindness and confidence booster! Not only do they learn to appreciate the cost of gifts, and time it takes to find the “perfect present”, but they also learn the power in making someone else smile.
Happy Holidays from Cambelyn Coaching! Good luck with your checklist! I hope your holidays are magical and everything you hoped they would be! Don’t forget to incorporate time for self-care, put down your devices, slow down, smell the Christmas trees, and enjoy the moment!