Mike Reynolds looks back on his Christmas Morning and the five simple rules that helped him enjoy his holiday to the fullest
Christmas, like it has hundreds of times before, has come and gone. And, on top of all the excitement, there was ample stress to spread around too. Per usual, the holiday was filled with memories both big and small that will carry me through to the next Christmas, where, chances are, I’ll be equally stressed but equally excited. That has always been the case for me and my family, but, this year, I really tried to guard against the inevitable thoughts of “I should have enjoyed that more” while looking back on the Christmas season.
I was tired of that feeling that starts creeping in as early as 10 a.m. on Christmas Morning, that melancholy knowledge that it was all over for another 354 days, so, this year, I devised a plan. For 2013, I made a list of things to keep in mind on December 25, a list that would hopefully ensure that, when I looked back in 2014, I wouldn’t regret how I spent my time this holiday season. Here’s what I came up with:
1. On Christmas Day, before moving from one activity to the next, extend the moment for 60 seconds
Everything gets rushed on Christmas Day. You open gifts too fast, you eat too fast, you take pictures of your kids and relatives too fast because you’re always waiting to get to the next moment. Don’t do that. Sure, you might be in a hurry to get to the next thing, but if you can’t spend an extra 60 seconds doing something with your family on Christmas Day then you’ve made a wee scheduling boo-boo. That extra 60 seconds can make absolutely anything possible. It could be a hug by siblings or it could be a kiss for the cat. It could be anything and, for just 60 seconds, it’s definitely worth it.
2. If your kids come to your room to wake you in the morning, don’t ask for five more minutes (assuming it’s after 5 a.m.)
Is Christmas Day a long one? Yes, but it’s going to be long no matter what. There’s one day of the year where I hope the giddiness that my kids harvest in their sleep spills over so significantly that they wake up at four in the morning, and Christmas Day is it. Not every child grows up being unable to sleep on Christmas Eve, but many of them do and I was one of them (and continue to be to this day). I remember how fun it was to wake up at two in the morning and to rifle through a Christmas stocking. I remember creeping around the hallways, waking up my brothers and then counting down the minutes until I felt it was acceptable to wake up my own parents.
I remember just how great it was when the three of us finally heard the words, “OK, let me go downstairs to see if Santa came and then you can come down too.” I don’t want to deprive my kids of that feeling. I don’t even want to delay it for a minute.
3. Don’t spend the day steeped in regret
Don’t worry if people liked your gifts, don’t worry that the gravy isn’t ready, even though people are already at their seats with turkey on their plates, don’t worry that your kid knocked all the needles and the baby’s first Christmas decoration off your aunt’s Christmas tree. Of course, when things go wrong, it’s impossible to not instinctively worry, so when the wrong thing happens and when the stress bubble rises in your throat, give a kid a high five and ask them what they got for Christmas. They’ll go on and on and on and you’ll forget what happened in the first place.
And, if your aunt insists on reminding you over and over again exactly what went wrong, send that kid over to her for a talk and maybe they can set her straight.
4. Play with something a child has opened with that child
This could also be renamed “Find Your Inner Child.” It’s easy to look at all the paper and plastic and untwisted twist-ties and think “this is going to take five f%&*ing days to clean up,” and it will, but don’t make Christmas Day that day. Many of the toys will be around for a long time and many of them will never get played with beyond this morning anyway, so try to make the most of them. Every day is a good day to play with your kids, but there’s no energy like the energy of a kid on Christmas morning.
So put on a princess crown or a fireman hat and run around on a pretend horse. Do whatever that child asks you to do and enjoy.
5. Set aside any toys you don’t need to donate to someone who does
This doesn’t apply to everyone because there are many children who will play with the few toys they receive until they fall apart and then they’ll glue it together and play with it until it disintegrates. Kids that have lots of gifts will probably do this with a select few toys as well, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll do that with every toy. Don’t feel bad that you’re giving away something that someone else got you. After about a week, you’ll know whether or not that toy is being played with. Think of it not as a negative for giving away something someone gave your child but rather as a positive for making another child happy.
Hope you had a Merry Christmas, folks, and hope you have a Happy New Year!
—Photos courtesy of the author.