By: Stephanie Ryan
The holiday season is here- Elf on the Shelf, Mensch on the Bench, Gifts Galore! The stresses we put on ourselves each year certainly make the holidays seem less enjoyable. After a rough few months of illness with my son and my dad, I have learned that my own family is what’s most important. I have promised myself that this year, along with my husband, we will solely focus on our children. The excitement in their eyes when the Elf (or in our house Elves, Alvin & Cocoa) arrives is nothing less than amazing. The true spirit of the season is alive in their eyes! This is what it’s all about!
My husband always tells me to simplify things not just at the holidays, throughout the year – but that’s just not me. Yes, I do it to myself, and the late nights leading up to Christmas do get the best of me – But not this year! If I’m up late doing things for my children it doesn’t have the same pressures on me as shopping and wrapping for gifts to be given to extended family and friends. Not because I have five children, not because I don’t want to spend the money or take the time to shop – but because it takes away from the true meaning of the holiday – we should all sit back and enjoy the time with our own spouses and family and make memories that will forever be engrained in our children’s minds.
Nothing ever will be exactly perfect as planned, something I have to keep telling myself- our children don’t understand perfection the way we do. They won’t know that the wrapping paper isn’t the quality or print you prefer. They won’t care that you didn’t have time to bake cookies for Santa and had to purchase them or that the ornaments don’t sit perfectly on the tree. They WILL remember the excitement leading up to the holiday you celebrate and will remember the joy in your eyes as it shines through them. They WILL remember decorating the tree or lighting the menorah. They WILL remember the excitement in creating their wish list with you. They WILL remember reaching into their stocking on Christmas morning to see if Santa left an extra small surprise or opening their first gift of Hanukkah.
We have had a tradition in our family of following an advent calendar that holds a piece of chocolate for each day, which is a simple way to keep the excitement going daily leading up to Christmas. I have seen many different versions of this from opening up a mini lego set each day, to different types of treats each day. I have also come across a new version which includes opening up a new book to read each day leading up to the holiday – this is a GREAT IDEA that I plan to follow in the future.
With the popularity of social media, there are several things that are going around as far as gift giving. One of my favorites that I have been doing with my kids for years now is the gift of an “experience” which I highly recommend. This type of gift allows enjoyment and excitement throughout the year – movie tickets, a season pass to the zoo, a day at the waterpark or mini-golf. This all could be based on any budget – including a day at the public park, a visit to the library, a day of making cookies or a special treat- all things that can be done together which will be memories that last forever. Another favorite I came across was the 4 gift guide – something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
This year, I invite you all to follow me in letting the hustle and bustle of the season pass you right by and to sit back and enjoy the time at home with your family. Start a new tradition, take some extra time to be with the ones that mean the most to you. The days fly by, but the memories will last forever. Wishing you all nothing but health and happiness in the New Year. From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!