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Holiday Observations: Traditions, Memories, and Doing the Right Thing

Thankfully for me Christmas morning doesn’t start as early as it used to. Either the kids have all gotten older and like to sleep as much as I do or we have been moved to the later part of Santa’s route. Either way, I am just fine with a little later start to December 25th. No longer are there bikes to assemble or presents to snatch from hiding places. The kids somehow know what Santa is bringing them before the big day and the morning seems to be just a part of the process. As I sat back and watched things unfold before my eyes, I began to mentally note some observations about this holiday season. These observations continued throughout that day and I thought I would share them in hopes that you can relate and maybe come up with your own.

Family traditions are important: Several years ago, to create a new tradition we went on a holiday lights tour of the town together as a family. For most of December I had been thinking that this is one new tradition that I would not happen. Schedules were tight and I thought there is no way we can get a tour on Christmas Eve. Several days later, no less then 3 of my kids texted me asking about the lights tour and could we do it again. I quickly realized this tradition needed to be continued.

After reaching out to the tour company we previously used, they said they had availability and I quickly booked it. Our time together was even better this time around. We had a blast together singing Christmas songs, dancing and having a great time together as a family and with friends. Traditions, new or old, are things that families look forward to and create great memories. Whether is it having the same meal on a special day, getting breakfast in bed on your birthday or going on a holiday lights tour with the family, keep your traditions going because they are more important than you may think.

Many hands make light work: Being a stay at home dad for over 20 years, I have gotten used to do many things myself. After the kids went off to school, I spent my days doing laundry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping or setting up for the next big party. Ok I must admit to some enabling of the kids over the years and I guess I got what I deserved. Now that the kids are grown, driving and more helpful, things have gotten a lot easier.

We had a big Christmas Eve meal in our family room around the Christmas tree and the presents. After the table was set up, I started fretting about how long this would take me to clean up. I wondered if we could just leave it up through Christmas morning because we would have to set it up again for lunch. I quickly squelched that thought as we needed the room for the present explosion. I just assumed it would just take me awhile to clean up and I was ok going to bed late. Well I was wrong!

I began the cleanup process after I had finished eating. In our house, my wife does much of the heavy lifting of food prep so I return the favor with cleanup. Shortly after rolling up my sleeve around the kitchen sink, the children began clearing the table for me! Shortly after the table got cleared, they were assisting with the table break down as well. Before I got all the dishes completed, the family room was cleared, vacuumed and things were put back the way they were like the meal didn’t even happen. Children can be very helpful and just want to be included in the plan. Sometimes that plan needs to be communicated and sometimes the kids just get it and pitch in because it is the right thing to do.

It’s really not about the presents: Maybe this wasn’t always the case but now our kids are older and priorities do change. When our kids were younger, my best moments of the holiday were on Christmas morning when the kids opened that present that they had been hoping Santa would bring them but never thought they would get only to realize that somehow he found it for them. This year my fondest memory didn’t even happen on Christmas morning! It was late in the evening and the adults and the kids were starting to wind down for the night. It was going to be an early bedtime for me, I thought, and I was fine with that. Some of the adults were sitting around the kitchen table discussing plans for the next day as the kids wandered over to be part of the discussion. Before any of us knew what was happening, it was almost midnight and we had spent the last two and a half hours reminiscing with each of them. We talked about trips we had taken, our Mimi who is no longer with us, previous Christmases, our summer vacations and much more. Each of the kids contributed to the conversation with thoughtful and heart filled memories. As I sat there laughing and crying with them, I felt honored to be present for such a moment. I would be remiss if I didn’t get credit where credit is due. Kori for years has been asking our kids questions about anything and everything and now our kids are asking us the same kind of questions! It was truly my most awesome memory of this Christmas.

I am sure you all have your own observations about this holiday and what it means to your family. Please take a few minutes to remember where your family has been and how you want to shape your family for 2019. For me, it is more of the same. More time with our kids, making more memories, more conversations and less worrying about those things that don't really matter. Happy holidays and Happy New Year!

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