As we approach the holiday season our kids excitement is gaining momentum. They can feel the chill in the air reminding them that snow will soon appear on their favorite sledding hills and that our local parks will soon have the skating rinks iced over. Our local store shelves are lined with Christmas lights, snowmen and an isle of beautiful Christmas trees. All of this is enough to tempt anyone into the Christmas Spirit and bypassing Thanksgiving altogether. This time of year is magical and special, but as a parent I often feel as if I have lost the excitement of the season before it has even begun. I begin to wonder how I am suppose to deliver a message of thanksgiving, comfort and joy when I am struggling to even wade through all the homework yet to be done. Holiday baking begins to look like one more thing to clean up and I wonder if any of it is worth it all.
Every holiday season is different for us. Some years we have kept working on sit down work right through the holidays only taking Thanksgiving day and Christmas day off. Those years working through the holidays worked really well and we were done with their homework by spring. Other years we have taken two to three months off of their homework simply because we could not fit one more thing into our schedule. The holidays like any other time during our school year needs to work for us, not us working for it.
When Holidays begin to feel chaotic I start to look at what we need to cut out of our day. Do I need to say no to something or are there invitations we need to decline. I want our families holiday season to be peaceful, joyful and full of cheer. Being able to say no during the holiday season is as important as remembering to say no during the rest of the school year.
As a parent I want my kids to excel in all that they do and I often get sidetracked by academics. There have been times where I have put academics before my kid’s emotional readiness. I have put it before my relationship with them and have had to win back their trust and their hearts. The Lord has been faithful to show me the valuable life lessons I can teach while baking, reading or even going to the park with our kids. Allowing me to deepen my relationship with my kids and allow academics to be worked on, without requiring sit down work for a season.
I want to share some examples with you. Every year my sisters and my mom make lefsa for the holiday season. I have loved this time with my mom since I was a little girl. Now as my kids have gotten older we have begun to teach them how to roll out the lefsa, turn it without poking holes in it, and which towels work best to steam it keeping it soft but not moist. Every year we also bake Thanksgiving and Christmas cutout cookies. As they work alongside us in the kitchen we are developing and deepening our relationship with our kids. We laugh, giggle, and always end up with flour from floor to ceiling. Among the giggles, the kids are practicing reading, math skills, and often handwriting as we write special notes on lefsa and cookie packages we give away. They are relaxed and engaged as they are putting their sit down work into practice.
Each year during the month of November we put up what we call our, Thankful Tree, on the wall. Every day each family member writes what they are thankful for on a leaf and we tape it to our tree. By Thanksgiving Day we are able to see all the blessings that God has placed in our lives.
Last year in preparation for Thanksgiving we read that the Pilgrim’s celebration actually lasted a whole week. This year we are going to play games, eat festive food, and celebrate all week long. We are going to spend time with family and friends, play games, and have fun. This is going to require my kids to sit down with me and help plan out the games, food ideas, and who we would like to join us. There are a tremendous amount of skills that will be learned as we prepare for a week of celebration.
In preparation for Christmas, we sing carols, decorate our home, snuggle up and watch holiday movies. We spend the month of December celebrating the birth and life of our Savior. In our home, we do not merely celebrate the Savior’s birth at Christmas. We want our kids to not only remember Christ was born, but to remember that the Messiah has already come! We want them to experience the same joy they find during Christmas throughout the whole year. When we remember that the Messiah has already come and won our freedom to stand before God the Father that to us is truly the reason for the season. It brings us peace not only during the holiday season but throughout our lives into eternity.
I am thankful that the Lord has helped me to remember to not let the holidays catch up with me, to slow down, and truly enjoy all that he has blessed us with our lives. I am thankful that when I start running around like a chicken with my head cut of he is faithful to stop me. He stops me and reminds me to slow down, breathe, and seek him for wisdom in what to do.
What are some fun traditions you have with your kids? Have you found ways to help you truly enjoy the holidays with your family? I would love to hear all of your great ideas!