Every Christmas that I’ve been a mom I’ve felt pressure to make it memorable and rich with traditions we would repeat every year. This I my third year to try and the first that I feel like we’ve really started something.
Because I know I’m not the only parent who feels this way, I’d like to offer a few thoughts of encouragement and suggestions as we brave this season as parents of littles during the holidays:
- Give yourself grace. I know, I know. All year long everyone is telling you to take it easy on yourself, but this time of year it’s even more important. It seems expectations are multiplied from all angles, so it’s the best time to adopt a practice of affirmations, meditation, centering prayer, etc. Whatever fills you up spiritually and emotionally, do that thing.
- When attempting to start a new tradition, remember to BE YOUR FAMILY. It’s easy to log on to facebook and see Hannah from high school baking gluten-free gingerbread villages from scratch with her toddlers and think to yourself, “I oughta try that,” when you very much ought not try that, dear sister. You might also see Callie from college taking her family to Disney this year and think, we should find it in the budget to go to Orlando next year. If intricate holiday baking is indeed not your thing, this could end badly. If your budget doesn’t allow for Mickey to make an appearance, don’t despair. Filter all the”ought tos” through the truth of who you know your family to be. (Enneagram geek side-note: this is especially difficult for us 2s. What we OUGHT to do and what we WANT to do is clear as mud sometimes, and takes some guess-and-check, which is exhausting for everyone.)
- Often, fewer traditions means fuller traditions. We must pace ourselves! This year I was forced to live open-handedly and be realistic about what we were capable of doing. We ended up starting just a few traditions which I believe will only get better each year!The tradition of cutting down our own REAL Christmas tree is really the only one that had remained during these last three years of parenthood. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we happily drive out to a tree farm in Lonoke called Schilling’s Tree Farm and carefully choose the perfect one to bring home for the holidays. The tree always seems to lean a little more than expected once we have it up in the living room, but I’m learning to embrace that bit of “imperfection.”
This year we started something we think will withstand the test of time. We have an advent set-up, complete with items from the dollar tree- evidence of a tight budget these past few years! This year, we didn’t light candles every Sunday of Advent, but we did have the Advent candles out on the kitchen table throughout the season. This Christmas morning was special, though. Before we got the kids up, we lit the first four candles and left the Christ candle unlit. We got them up, brought them into the kitchen with all lights off except the light of the candles. We then said a few words about the birth of Jesus, complete with teaching ASL of “Baby Jesus” (don’t be impressed, it’s very easy), before reading Isaiah 9 and lighting the Christ candle. We prayed together and prepared ourselves for a lovely breakfast! I want to be transparent and say this was not premeditated. In fact, the idea struck me minutes before we got the kids out of bed.
We’ve been trying to figure out a way to focus on the meaning of Christmas AND enjoy our cool presents. It’s hard, though, not to have the morning be all about the wrapped stuff under the tree. It’s hard to bring the focus to our tradition of Jesus birth without feeling like the kids are tapping their feet waiting to open the gifts. I think the whole lights out, candles lit, thing gave our kids, little as they are, a sense of excitement and expectation, which HELLO! is what Advent is all about! As they grow up, we might adjust the tradition, but this year, Advent candles, breakfast, gifts was a perfect order for our crew.
Speaking of breakfast…
I cannot overstate how incredible the combination of bacon+cinnamon rolls+coffee is. I’m still daydreaming about it. This is now the breakfast of Christmas in our home, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. One thing: I plan to learn to make my Mamaw Judy’s homemade cinnamon rolls in 2019 so that they can replace these, which came from a can. But I’m SO not beating myself up about the canned cinnamon rolls this year. I think they might’ve even had the word “organic” on the label, for which I’m sure I score blogger mom points. (insert eye roll) But seriously, the kids loved this breakfast! Beau was feeding it to HIMSELF, a sign that he actually liked it. We gave Rosie a taste of the frosting and she was a fan. Someday we hope she can enjoy eating this breakfast with us! Either way, this will stick as our staple for Christmas morning. It’s manageable and delicious. All the best things.
I’ll leave you with two questions. What are your favorite traditions? What is your strategy for not going positively batty over the holidays?