The holidays are coming, and I am super spoiled. I am always a guest at someone’s house, and since both my husband’s family and mine are out of town, we are never charged with bringing much. Freeloaders? Is that the word? But my family keeps inviting us back, so what we lack in food prep, we must make up for in personality. When the holidays come a knockin’, I get pretty excited. The kids are clearly ecstatic, and it can be hard to calm them down. We love the Thanksgiving gatherings, and the traditions that Christmas brings. My husband and I try hard to make them realistic about what their lists will look like. I know there are some stresses that come with the holidays. A good resource I have found to combat the stress and make it a fun time for kids is Tips for Thanksgiving Help Us All Stress Less by Lori Lite. These are great nuggets of wisdom for Thanksgiving that I plan to use, and when it comes to Christmas, my family has some fun activities to which we stay pretty faithful.
Giving to Others
The holidays are a great time for donations and volunteer help. Our religious institution makes it very easy for patrons to buy all of the fixings for a turkey dinner.
Then, as a church, we have the opportunity to deliver meals to those in our city who are not used to enjoying the holidays. Christmas offers the same kind of experiences for my kids. I want them service-minded and grabbing a name off of the gift tree at our church is a great way for them to see that giving is important. Collecting coats, socks, and gloves are ways in which we can make a difference as well. One of my friends always says, “We’re all better off when we’re all better off.” And I couldn’t agree more. I want to seek out these opportunities more, but it’s nice to have a place to start.
Portable North Pole
If you don’t know about the Portable North Pole yet and you have small children, click this link immediately. One of my coworkers stumbled upon this gem. The website allows you to personalize a message to your child(ren) from Santa. You can upload a picture of what they are going to ask Santa for, or you can suggest what they should ask based on this message. You input their name and city (first name only), and he talks to them via a video by email. I have done this for five years. It is magical to see the kids when they get their message. First: I like it that I can suggest what they should ask for, so I’m not stressing about getting an Xbox 360 or a new hamster. Also, you can put if they are naughty or nice. In addition, if you have a child like my daughter, there is no way you’ll get her on a strange man’s lap in any mall. And bringing her there for each attempt brings down the mall Santa’s self esteem a bit and my patience. The Portable North Pole offers no stranger danger. No lines. Just a friendly electronic message from the big guy in red. If you’re weary, try it with a fake name and city first. It is one of the best things we do.
Another tradition we adopted from a brilliant friend of mine is our own Polar Express. We like to put the kids to bed early one night before Christmas. The older ones get really mad, and we act like there is no reason why we are doing it, which ticks them off even more. When they get in their PJs and climb into bed, they find a ticket I printed off of Pinterest for a ride on the Polar Express. Only my Polar Express is in the form of a mini van. When they get in the car in their jammies all giggly from being tricked, they find hot chocolate and snacks. We take off as a family driving around, looking at Christmas lights. As a mom, I love being together like that, but last year, we almost didn’t do it, and my 11-year-old said, “When’s the Polar Express going to happen, mom? I love that.” There you go: middle school boy approved. It’s the surprise, the late night, and the snacks that they love. But I’m thinking the family time might just be part of that as well. You can get a template for the ticket here, and I just put them under their pillows.
The Reason for the Season
Despite all of this commercialized fun, we try to remember the reason for the season. We attempt to keep religion out of our posts, but I do have to say that no matter what we, as people, believe, it is a time to remember to love each other and show our children what it’s like to be kind, be thoughtful, and be giving. Because this is our world, and soon it will be theirs. We’ve got to give them an example of what we’d like them to inherit.
Happy holidays from Family Footnote. As always, we’d love to hear your traditions! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org