The Christmas (and other holiday) Crazies are here! Children everywhere are so excited with the season, and everywhere parents and teachers are emailing that their children’s behavior is off the top crazy!
Well, I love the Christmas crazies in one sense. I mean, think back carefully when you were a child and how you LOVED the holidays. Remember the anticipation, the waiting, the magic of the holidays? The feeling that Christmas would never come? How about funny stories and crazy fun things? I remember my father telling me about his German aunts who started baking in early November for Christmas. They stored millions of dozens of Christmas cookies under their beds and all the children in the family would sneak in and eat the baking for several months before Christmas appeared! Or how about my own daughter and her cousin, who, two years ago, woke up at 3:30 in the morning wild and ready for breakfast and gift giving?
I am sure you have your own version of the Christmas crazies from your family – leave your funny story in the comment box so we can laugh with you!
But on a serious note, sometimes the adults getting ready for the holidays feel anxious and stressed. People write to me about this topic and I think probably would like to hear something other than “embrace the crazy and have FUN!”….So here are a few brief thoughts:
Leave time and space for the fun. Leave time and space to be outside a lot to work off energy, try to keep your food not completely off kilter, and again, work off the energy. Those of you in colder climates are so fortunate really. I remember ice skating on ponds, skiing, and cross country skiing as a child. And hours playing in the snow and sledding, and yes, shoveling, and carrying and stacking firewood. Lots of time to work and play! And those of you in warm climates, you have the beach and the waves and the sand and surf. Fun!
Do a little planning. If you have traveling to do, making sure you have a bag full of activities and parent-approved whole foods often goes a long way. Some of my favorite things for longer trips include beeswax modeling, pipe cleaners, stickers for putting on paper, telling stories, playing “I-Spy” and other games. Long car rides are great for singing! Have some little projects for around the house. If baking or whatever project you want to do is too much with multiple young children and ends in tears, give yourself permission to NOT do it. Do it in a few years. It will be better, and find something you can all do and enjoy together now.
Keep the schedule as low-key as you can. Remember the time and space rule. With small children you are probably not going to be able to do everything you want to do. Pick what is fun that you can all do together and forget the rest. Simple is best, and less is more.
Find your sense of humor. Some of the things that can be so irritating in the moment will truly be funny ten years from now, and provide stories to tell your grown children and grandchildren. If everything went smoothly, eh, what would there be to tell?
Yes, traditions are lovely, but they can be flexible, they can change as your children grow. Some years just call for simple and that is okay! And you don’t need a thousand traditions to make a holiday! Just a few will do.
Please share your favorite funny stories, and your favorite and most loved traditions!
Love and hugs,
I’ve been lucky with my kids in that they have never gone crazy over the holidays. I, on the other hand, remember driving my mom crazy. The year I knocked down the tree sliding down the bannister. The year I snuck into all my wrapped gifts while she was at work (and being so bold as to take them to school)! Making it difficult for Santa to visit and just being a general nuisance each year. Things changed when siblings came along and I learned the importance of cultivating an air of wonder and surprise.
I am in love with this time of year and this season. But also acutely aware of my son’s need to be somewhat protected from the hype, because he gets so amped up (he didn’t sleep past 11 PM the night before St. Nicholas Day, anticipating and anxious about St. Nicholas’s visit – unfortunately he keeps his sister and parents awake all night when he is!). We don’t add a lot of drama to the events of the season. Keep things simple, since he is an almost 6 year old and baby sister is just 3.5.
Our rhythm right now: breakfast starts with “Winter is dark but each tiny spark…” and lighting a daily advent candle. Cleanup then WALK outside no matter the weather; Christmas crafting or baking – we simple projects – rolled candles, the gnomes in Earthways, cranberry chains, blank cards with holiday stickers, stamps, crayons, and holiday paper/glue – that my kids can make prolifically and with minimal frustration – all available in baskets, along with a wrapping station of lovely ribbons and scissors, tape, paper. Lunch, then reading Christmas and/or library books on the couch or in sheepskin nests on the floor. Then back outside right after quiet time or all heck breaks loose! We had maybe a quarter inch of snow on the ground this week, but that was enough for my kids to pull each other on a sled at the park across the street, to chip away at ice in the backyard and transport it to the park for a “sled jump” – just braving the cold and my son’s difficulties with layered clothing because we ALL need to be outside! Then a warm snack and sometimes they play well for a while indoors, sometimes they need more support, sometimes we cook dinner together…then dinner when we light our pseudo advent wreath. We read a story from the Wynstones Light in the Lantern book by candelight after dinner, then brush teeth and into bed. LOL, it sounds so idyllic when I write it out and sometimes it is!
I’ve been trying to realllllllly hold the space of Advent this year myself in a true way – preparation for the birth of a child, for the return of the light, for the warmth of the year to come. For the homeschooling journey our family is beginning. For clearing out the things that are not working and making space for new ways of being together and doing things.
Some beloved traditions:
– Our hs community’s Advent Spiral has been a really special experience these past couple of years. My daughter participated for the first time this year and it was so sweet to see both children really holding and protecting their light.
– Opening stockings first on Christmas morning (my dad worked nights when I was little and I always slept with my mom that night – when I woke at the crack of dawn, she would tiptoe out, come back and tell me that Santa was still there but said I could open my stocking…she always made sure there were enough trinkets in it that it would last until my dad got home to be part of the morning – I have continued this with my own children).
– The giant wreath we hang over our mantle. The Advent garden tradition we started on our mantle this year that my kids are living into beautifully.
– Certain books – The Tomten, The Night Before Christmas, Nonna Tell Me a Story, that our kids and we love this time of year.
– Connecting with friends.
– St. Nicholas cookies dropped anonymously at neighbors’ homes – we almost always have to do this on another day, b/c Kai is always so exhausted after not sleeping the night before!
– The smell of the tree.
To help protect him a bit this year, we are waiting until quite late to bring our tree home and decorate it. We also may surprise them with an early visit from Santa during the afternoon of Christmas Eve while we are out on a walk – he gets so anxious with the sleep – we are thinking of a note from Santa saying he made us an early stop so that everyone would feel more peaceful that night… I have started to skip much crafting in the afternoons, because both children get too frustrated by it later in the day…reallllly holding the daily rhythm is so much more important right now – for me and for them – than it already is during the rest of the year. Small experiences rather than big ones – we don’t go to the giant light festivals and tours – we go for walks around the block at night when everyone is up for one to see what neighbors have displayed. We are learning three songs to sing to a couple of sets of favorite older neighbors next week. In some ways, lol, I’m living into the Christmases I kind of daydreamed about as an only child who did all of the decorating herself!
Well – that was a little novella! Thanks as always for the space you create here and the warmth and support you give to so very many mamas!
Thanks for this reminder – we’ve all got colds and I was feeling frantic as I spent 30 min. snuggling with my toddler watching snowblowers go by instead of making Christmas presents as I had planned . . . I remind myself that the time in with littles now will reap benifits in years to come, even if all we do is gingerbread cookies and, well, gingerbread cookies.
My funniest Christmas story is the year my Dad tried to roast chesnuts in tinfoil in our fireplace. He pulled them out and as soon as the shells were cool enough he took the nutcracker to open one and it exploded! He burnt his hands and there were roasted chesnut pieces EVERYWHERE. It was hilarious.