Christmas Experience Overload: Keeping Things Simple
Each week, Max’s kindergarten teacher sends home a newsletter. It includes what they’ve been working on that week and classroom reminders. This week’s reminder struck a chord with me and made me think of the holidays as they relate to my kids in a totally different way. She said:
“Sometimes we adults, in our efforts to recapture the excitement we once felt as children, will go overboard in trying to provide the best, most exciting experiences at the holidays for our own children. We tend to forget that for young children the holidays are always new and exciting even if when celebrations are kept very simple! Remember: The children haven’t done this holiday thing 20 or 30 or 40 times yet! It’s still fresh to them and doesn’t require a lot to be magical! Keep their expectations within limits! The greatest joy of the holidays is the memories you make spending quiet and loving time together with family and friends! That’s what they will remember…not the presents they got in 2012.”
I am a person who never wants to miss out on something holiday related. It lasts all year. During the summer, I long for a beach house so I can host seaside 4th of July and Labor Day picnics. In the fall, I feel I’ve failed my boys if we don’t go apple picking AND pumpkin picking at farms that have animals AND a hayride. Now that Thanksgiving has passed and it’s Christmas time, I feel we must hit up every Santa appearance and Polar Express reading for miles around. I anxiously anticipate that run down the stairs to see what Santa brought moment. My boys do really enjoy those things if they’re broken into small chunks. I noticed in the fall when we had something to do both days of every weekend that the boys were really craving time at home to just be, play with their trains and read books. This season, we do have a lot planned but it’s one thing per weekend and if it’s more, it’s only for an hour or two so there is time to relax and read stories by the Christmas tree.
So far we’ve ridden the Polar Express and went to a tree lighting. We have plans to see Santa arrive on his firetruck and visit a local park set a glow with lights. But what my boys really want to do is have a pajama party, in front of the fireplace, reading Christmas books from the library. They want to sit on the couch and watch Shrek the Halls and Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. They want us. They want to experience the magic of Christmas that we take for granted in the lights of the Christmas tree and the stockings by the fireplace. Max walks around saying Merry Christmas to everyone and giving hugs at least twice a day. He’s just so happy. I want to make sure that magic continues.
On a side note, I’ve been trying to encourage family members for years to swap the toys as Christmas gifts for experiences. On my boys’ list this year is swimming lessons and a museum pass so this article about giving experiences really hit home with me.