Boy, it is so easy to get caught up in all of the holiday hoopla … especially with what seems to be a much (much) shorter time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Where the heck have the last few weeks gone? I feel like I’ve been in a mad scramble not only keeping on top of our daily life, but when you add in decorating the house, purchasing presents, sending Christmas cards, planning family dinners, etc. – well, damn it’s a lot! I’m also feeling pressure to figure out how to keep it fun and magical for the kids because as they are getting older(and wiser), their definition of Christmas is changing a little each year.
I love traditions. Over the years we’ve developed a few of our own and I love the fact that my kids are so excited for them each Christmas. When they were young it was about fun and silly traditions but now as they are getting older I’m feeling that we need to step our game up a bit. When they were little, just the fact that a big fat man could fit down our chimney and leave them presents did the trick. It was so perfect – butterflies on Christmas Eve in anticipation of what was to come and then warm fuzzies on Christmas morning when they felt like the luckiest kids in the world. Do you remember that feeling? The big question is, how do we keep that magic as part of their Christmas world as they grow up? And by the way … wouldn’t it be nice to re-capture it ourselves?
We tried a new/old tradition out last year (new to them, old to me) and I think we’re on to something. When I was growing up, my mom was bound and determined that we would know that the true meaning of Christmas was about more than the presents. It was a time to appreciate each other as blessings and be grateful that we were a family. When I was in middle school she started a tradition that required everyone to take a turn and honor each of the other family members individually by saying something nice about them. Ummm – yeah. I can remember a few years that really didn’t go down like that. I think we may have even tried to boycott one year. But God bless my mom … she stuck with it and tweaked it each year until we all actually enjoyed it. Anyone who knows her, knows that she is one creative lady so sometimes there were themes. One year she likened us all to different kinds of boats. I was in high school and at that point I was a sailboat. Apparently I was very good at keeping life calm and sailing along at a nice consistent speed, not doing anything to make waves (go me!). It was only a few Christmas’s later when she informed me that I had changed into a cruise ship that was all about moving from one fun party destination to another. I’m still not sure if that was a compliment… although thinking about it now, since they were paying tuition to send me to Villanova I’m guessing it wasn’t.
So last year after dinner in the Van Dusen house, while we were all still sitting around the table, we each took a turn telling the others one trait that we really admire about them and why. I’ll admit I was holding my breath to see how it would be received. Fortunately for me, my kids were much better sports than my brother, sister and I were at that age. And it was awesome. The kids really got into it and were thrilled to be included – not only to hear what we said about them but more to have the chance to talk about us. I was so impressed with the kind, honest and insightful things that they said about each other and about us as parents – and it occurred to me that these kids are really observant and they get it! One of the best parts was to see how proud they were to share – they were literally sitting there beaming. I was so incredibly proud of them – they truly got what Christmas was about … and that was the best gift that a mom could ever get. So, of course we are going to do it again this year and I have to tell you I already have butterflies just thinking about all the warm fuzzies we are going to share on Christmas night. I hope you have some too!