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What's Really Important?

Last night, around 11:30pm, Number 3 came home after finishing his first semester at college. On Monday, Number 2 comes home after 4 months on the road with The Young Americans. That Friday, Kori comes home from working out of town and Saturday, Number 1 returns home from Texas. There are a lot of moving parts to this family but its worth it because we will all be together for the holidays. This will be the first time we have all been together since last December!

It is really hard to believe it has been that long since we have all been together and I am really looking forward to it. Putting it down like this on paper, helps to put the holidays in perspective for me. This week I have been “spinning” and not going anywhere. With the kids all home and relatives coming to visit, I couldn’t help but begin to get nervous. What am I going to cook? When should I clean the house? Do we have enough gifts for everyone? Who did I forget to buy a gift for? You get the idea. My days have been filled with these and other questions as I navigate through my normal routine and continue to add additional tasks.

I was losing focus about what this season was all about. It isn’t about the tasks or gifts or food. It is about all of us being together again. It’s about rekindling all the relationships that have been put on hold because of distance. Its one thing to talk on the phone with the kids for 5 minutes once a week and a completely different thing to sit together under the same roof and hear about their life and how they have each grown individually over the year. Most of my fondest memories as a dad center around having my family together and I am sure this holiday will be no different.

I am making a conscience choice to not get caught up in what most years leads to excessive credit card debt to chase some special moment that is already there when we are together as a family. As I write that sentence I have to admit that I had my own eye roll questioning if I could actually do that. It isn’t easy. I have been programmed for years that the way to happiness is through buying gifts for our kids. Seeing their reaction to getting exactly what they want has always won out over just spending time together.

As the kids have grown their wish lists have decreased and more functional items like designer shoes, makeup, sweatpants, dress shirts and money have moved to the top of their list. No less expensive but atleast more functional. Kori and I have for the most part over the years, decided that the number of gifts for each kid needs to be equal. We also try to keep value about the same as well. This can be challenging as we add more gifts (and more debt) to get things equal. I hope to be able to stick to this new mentality and focus on being together as a family.

The holidays should be about family. They should be about spending time together. Family traditions should be continued. Good food should be consumed. Memories should be made. It may be a long time before we are all back together again so I for one plan to enjoy myself and not get caught up in those things that can take away from what is really important.

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