The holidays were more peaceful than they normally are in the Samrick household. Call it evolving, getting older, trial and error, I don’t know, but I wasn’t screaming for school to resume by Day 3 of Christmas vacation. I learned a few things that I want to remember so I made a list.
First, shop early. Always a last minute shopper, I started before Thanksgiving this year and what a difference! When everyone else was standing in long lines at the mall or stressing about online gifts being delivered on time I was having a relaxing movie night with the family or dropping off the kids at Kids Camp for a last minute date night with my husband or girlfriends (namely those girlfriends who finished their shopping early too).
Second, decorating the house and creating a festive mood is more fun than it used to be. Miraculously my husband lost his fear of heights for one day to hang lights outside and my previous distaste for Christmas knickknacks has grown into a genuine appreciation for them.
Third, accept the dings. My reindeer tip towels could be brought out every year with hardly a wash in between, while this year they had various kid-prints on them long before Christmas. And from the nativity scene I hoped to pass down to my grand children someone inevitably breaks or loses a limb; this year was bad for one of the shepherds.
Acceptance brings peace.
Fourth, keep the kids on a routine, especially if you’re home for the holidays. Get out of the house every day, set up play dates, make doctor and dentist appointments for this time of year.
Fifth, get the kids involved in projects that don’t always involve sugar. My kids fought for creative control over the one gingerbread house last year and there is no way I could secretly discard four stale ones without a war. This year they had fun “gift-wrapping” with their own creative styles and making gift tags. The older ones learned to break down cardboard boxes, and they all went through the old toys and clothes for donations. If you’re going out of town for a few days give them a list to pack their own bag. Just be sure whoever is responsible for packing the car remembers all the bags … ask my husband about that.
Sixth, remind the kids why your family celebrates the way it does and why other families celebrate the way they do. They’re naturally self-centered, so this gives them pause for a moment to think about others, which is a good habit to have anytime of year.
Seventh, order extra holiday cards. There are always people you wish you’d sent one to. And enlist the kids to lick, seal and stamp them.
Eighth, assembling dollhouses in the garage late at night can be therapeutic, but when the dollhouse has 2000 parts and stickers definitely begin assemblage before Christmas Eve.
Ninth, spending New Year’s Eve with the kids when they’re actually old enough to know what is going on is pretty fun … even if it’s East Coast style and you’re in bed long before midnight. Having another family or more join in makes it even more fun.
Finally, take walks whenever the weather allows. No wonder everyone hits the gym each January!
It was a magical holiday season; a joyous start to what we hope will be a wonderful year for everybody.
Julie is the mother of four young children. She writes and lives in El Dorado Hills. You can write to her at [email protected].