I don’t know about you, but every year, after the holidays have passed, I am overwhelmed with a variety of emotions. I feel a great sense of relief that the season is over—but a little bit of sadness as well—because, well, it’s over. I always feel a little concerned that the whole year might be remembered for how it ended, and did I do enough to make it memorable for my children? I have many wonderful Christmas memories from my childhood…will my children have the same? The problem is, it’s hard to know what will “stick” in their memories until they’re much older. But I think there are certain things moms should do every year to make the holidays extra special.
Avoid stress as much as possible. The holidays, by nature, are stressful. The interruption of normal routines, extra shopping and traffic, school break, winter weather, and visits with family—the holidays are packed with stressors that, by themselves, would be more stress than “average.” Look for ways to cut out stress. Shop online to avoid busy malls and crazy traffic. Order groceries through grocery pickup (see more about that here) or (gasp!) give your husband to take a detailed list and ask him to go for you. My husband rarely gets as stressed as I do in busy grocery stores.
Write a holiday bucket list with all of your family’s favorite traditions. Then, once you’ve written the list, schedule them on your family calendar in PERMANENT MARKER. Don’t let anything get in the way of your scheduled family plans. Not only will this help you fit everything in to the busy holiday season, but it will also help you prioritize (eliminating stress) your family’s activities. Every year, we end up skipping a planned activity because we overbooked ourselves at the last minute.
Add a new family tradition to the bucket list. My family used to visit the L.L. Bean Flagship store in Freeport, Maine, every year on the night before Thanksgiving. But the tradition started because one year, my parents decided to try something new. Not every new activity will become a family tradition, but you will never know until you try something new!
Help your family stay focused on the true meaning of the holidays. Christmastime might be the easiest time of year to get caught up in material things. Our kids are focused on getting their wish lists on Christmas morning. My children have very little else on their minds after about November 1st—okay, July 1st. Or…okay, December 26th of last year. As moms, our to-do lists grow a mile long during the holidays, and it’s natural to find ourselves lost in all of the errands and shopping that seem to demand our time. But every year, I find myself asking, “What is it all about?” Is it enough to read the Christmas story before we let the kids tear into their presents? As moms, we set the example for our kids. If we are caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, our children will be as well. But if we remind them (and ourselves) WHO we are celebrating on a regular basis (and not just on Christmas morning!) we will shift the focus from ourselves to Him. There are a variety of opportunities to attend functions that help us focus on giving to others and remembering what Christmas is truly all about; whether it be volunteering at a shelter or attending a living nativity, we can help set the tone in our homes—it just takes a little bit of effort.
Keep a Christmas journal. I admit, I’ve never done this before, but thinking about this list got me thinking that I wished I could remember specific memories with specific years from my childhood. Some Christmas memories seem to run together. It wouldn’t take much, but just a few fun memories and thoughts from each year, jotted down in a special notebook, and tucked away in the Christmas decorations to be pulled out the following year—what a great way to keep track of memories and reminisce as the years go by!