The festive season is a culmination of financial worries, excessive planning and gift buying. Oh, and thinking up new legitimate reasons why the in-laws can’t spend all of the Christmas break with you.
But December can also be a month to connect with the children. It can be a month to bring the year to a quiet close with your family.
You can decide not to get into debt to buy spectacular gifts, and spend effort on making memories instead.
Choosing peaceful activities that are about being together is a way to counteract the demands of December.
Every December I fill 24 homemade envelopes with a card that my sons take turns to open. There’s a daily activity to do, as a family, or as a trio.
It’s an opportunity to bring focus. The activities have the same effect as a pause button. It’s a moment to center the attention on our family.
The activities are varied. Yesterday’s was playing a game together. We sat at the table and played a dice game with spiced Dutch biscuits (kruidnoten, sweet treats associated with 5 December in the Netherlands). It took no more than ten minutes.
But it was ten minutes of forgetting about the worries of the day. It was 600 seconds of connection. It was ten minutes of smiles.
There’s more to come: a family movie evening, Christmas stories with candles and hot chocolate, listening to festive music together, eating dinner by candlelight, a photo session with Christmas hats, baking mince pies together, walking around the neighborhood with lanterns or a torch, taking a drive to look at all the lights around town, eating dinner picnic style by the Christmas tree and collecting food for the local food bank. There’s a German Christmas market on the list too. A family day out.
By the time we get to Christmas Eve, it has been a month of family bonding; we have spent quality time together. Excitement levels have been tempered by focusing daily on something other than Christmas Day.
December becomes so much less about the presents and more about presence. It’s time with you that your children will remember, it’s the festive traditions that will stay with them into adulthood, and not the gifts wrapped in paper under the tree.
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