As I lay in bed thinking of my extra long holiday to-do list, I had a realization. They get it. My children are actually grasping the concept of giving and brightening someone else’s day. It is not just about their own lists to Santa. (The bells inside my head began to chime in symphony!)
I had barely crossed the threshold on my way home from work last night and my son asked me for a gift bag. My response went something like this- “Buddy, can I take my jacket off before the requests start?” He couldn’t help himself, he kept asking until I had produced a small bag for him to use. As I puttered around the house, I didn’t notice that he had gone outside. When he came home he had a big smile on his face and told me he just left some candy on the doorstep of our neighbor secretly to make her smile. It was his hand-crafted random act of kindness!
Last year we completed a random act of kindness for each day in the month of December. It was my attempt at getting my children to understand about giving to others instead of getting caught up in the “gimmes.” This year, I am sad to say, that time got away from me and we did not do it. But my son and daughter have been talking more and more about what to buy for the special people in their lives. They have asked about helping others. They have made crafts to give to special friends. They have demonstrated to me that they understand the magic of this season and want to share this with people.
Maybe this is typical for this age. I knew this year Christmas would be big since my children are at the perfect ages to grasp more of the traditions. Their memories from holidays past are more vivid. They can conjure up the warm feelings from years past as a way of preparing for this season’s festivities. But I have been so busy thinking about the gifts to purchase, the cookies to bake, and sending out the cards, that I almost missed it. I didn’t stop and take enough time to absorb their knowledge. And this wasn’t the first time…
I am guilty of always having a to-do list. I am also guilty of wanting to cross things off the list. I get so caught up in getting it done that I forget to stop and smell the roses. I have forgotten how to stay focused on what really matters (taken from the title of Carla Naumburg’s new book Parenting in the Present Moment.) And I know I am not alone. I keep telling myself not to get caught up in all of the mundane household tasks that surround me (and my husband is my constant reminder of this, to his credit.)
So I have decided that with 13 days to go until Christmas and a New Year right around the corner, I am going to make some changes. I am going to leave the guilt at the door. There isn’t enough room in my world for it. And I am going to stop and be more present with my children. I am going to sit, snuggle, and watch a holiday special on tv with them. Did you ever stop to recognize that virtually all of the holiday shows, Rudolf, the Grinch, Charlie Brown, depict dramas of acceptance? (I missed that too.) I don’t want to look back on these special years and recall the sibling rivalry around gingerbread houses fueled by being overtired from staying up late a Cocoa Night. I want to delight in the traditions.
This morning my daughter gave me a hug and said “Mom, can we do something special as a family today?” As I hugged her warmly my reply was simple, “YES!” We are going to get our Christmas tree. We might make some cookies, we might get those cards out, and we might make some ornaments. But I am most certainly going to make a concerted effort to take a moment to enjoy the magic of the season with my own little elves.
And I challenge you to leave the guilt at the door and enjoy the season as well!