Christmas and New Years can be a hectic time of the year for a lot of people. At the house your kids have final exams, your young adult’s have college finals, there are cookies to bake, gifts to buy, sicknesses start going around, Christmas plays need attending, and well, I think you get the point. This does not even count the job with year end budgets, dirty Santa white elephant gift exchanges, cards to write, and the list goes on… and on… and on! Honestly, most of us could add dozens more activities and responsibilities to the list.
The major question is, “What good are the holidays, if you never take the time to enjoy them?”
This is the “elephant in the room” that we tell ourselves we will fix but year after year most of us work more during the holidays than we have time to enjoy them.
1. Remember not to squander time that you will never have back again.
The definition of squander is to spend wastefully. How many times have we done something thinking that the outcome would be different and when it was all over the energy we spent seemed so obviously wasted? One batch of cookies left uncooked is not going to ruin the holidays. One present wrapped with a different color paper is not going to ever be remembered. All to often we allow the little things to get in the way of the important ones, and years later we are left with what could have been or what should have been more that what really happened. Tell yourself that if you can’t get to a few things it is OK. What really will be remembered are the quality times you spend with your family and those that you love. The laughs around a game table when everyone had off of school or work, or the movie night when the laptop was put back on the shelf will be the things that define your legacy. They are the things that will shape your memories and the memories of those you hold closest to your heart.
2. Make sure that you don’t make it about the money
I did not know whether to laugh or cry this year when I saw the way people acted in some places in the ever so infamous Walmart black Friday sales. I did not know whether I was looking at a herd of cattle or real people that actually gave a care about others. What could be so important that you would punch someone over a TV that is $50 off or cuss someone out because they took the last Star Wars Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid toy. What is the worst case scenario? Your child has to settle for one gift less or wait a few months to get what they want? They will never remember that toy, but what they will remember is how everyone acted in in the middle of something that was suppose to be special. If you don’t have the money to buy expensive gifts then don’t buy expensive gifts. Instead turn your attention to the things that matter the most.
3. Be purposeful about your time and who you are willing to give it to
If you are not careful you will lose one of the biggest battles in life that you will ever face – time. After all there is only one reason that when I looked into the mirror this morning I saw more gray than I did 12 months ago. The enemy is time and it will never slow down for anyone or anything. The choices I make and where I choose to spend the gift of time will forever define my legacy as a parent, as a spouse, and really as a person. I made a conscious choice to not go to every party this year that we were invited to. Why? Not because I felt like being fashionably absent, but because my children are getting older and every day is a gift that I am given to speak into them, know who they are, and ultimately give them the best gift that I can give and that is me. Sure jobs need time, and schools need time. Heck your friends need time too. But most of all your families are the ones that live your life with you. I for one am determined to not live with strangers, but to know my family emotionally and spiritually so that when I am old and winding down that time is full of love and memories instead of regret and disdain.
4. Do something different so that you can make a memory
Life is full of routines. We get up and pack the kids lunches, start working, eat dinner, maybe work some more, and go to bed only to do it all over again the next day. We have become predictable in boring in many of our homes and once in a while a good jolt of something different is just what the family needs. Make a point to do something different over the holiday. It does not have to cost a lot of money. Make ornaments together and start a new tradition. Bake some weird desserts that no one has tried before and let everyone get involved. Play a game that you have never played before. Do a family scavenger hunt where the winner gets out of chores for a week. Whatever you do, do it together. At first you may get some kick back from your older children, but have fun trying :). Remember to not take yourself too seriously and just go with it. The memory is more important than the outcome.
5. Help someone or a family that is less fortunate and in need
One of the greatest flaws in thinking that most Americans have is that if I give more I will have less. After all, If I have $100 and I give away $25 that only leaves me $75. The craziest thing I have learned is that even though with basic math principals we can certainly prove the point, there is something mystical, almost supernatural about being a giving person. It will change your attitude and replace it with gratitude. Giving will give you the power to externalize everything instead of internalizing. When you are a giver it will exude to others and more opportunities will open up just because you are a caring person. I remember about 15 years ago my family did not have 2 nickels to rub together. The car payment was months behind and the house payment was even more in the rears. In the middle of one of the hardest times in the life of our family we decided to start giving to our local church. After all it is easy to give 10% of $50. The vary week we made up our mind to be more generous our whole financial situation started to turn around. It was like being generous was the answer to not having enough. Who would have ever thought? I still don’t completely understand how generosity works, but nothing says Merry Christmas more than doing something for someone else that you were not forced to do. Choose generosity this year and you will enjoy your holiday even more.
At Uplifting Families we would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year. It is our desire to help you and yours have a happier more fruitful life.