From the time they were very young my children realized that there was no Christmas in their lives. It’s not because they have the Scrooges for parents; Christmas is not our religious holiday. Taking them grocery shopping in December was always a challenge. Without fail the cashier (always well meaning) would ask them if they were being good or what they wanted Santa to bring them. Although I never knew what to say, my kids figured it out on their own and had a standard reply, “We’re not Christmas kids. We’re Hanukkah kids.” It wasn’t said sadly as if they felt they were missing out on something. It was just an explanation, a fact worthy of sharing.
Christmas is all pervasive whether you celebrate it or not. It’s in every store, and on every radio station. Then, when you get to the big day, it’s as if the world stops. It’s a true family day. As a response to the fact that our kids’ friends were busy with their families and couldn’t play, we gradually created a special family ritual for the day. As most families build up to a crescendo on Christmas Day we actually power down. We wake up whenever we wake up, build a fire, and stay in our pajamas. We watch movies or bake cookies (or both!). In the afternoon we go out to see a movie, then finish off our day with dinner at a Chinese restaurant. (Did you know that Chinese restaurants are always open on Christmas Day? And they are packed!)
It is a surprisingly calm and peaceful day. No cooking or running around, no crowds, and no let down. What began as an accident has become the most anticipated day of the year for our family. It’s No Obligations Christmas. Our biggest stressor is deciding which movie to see.
Your Christmas Day may be so filled with family and friends that this is not an option for you—on December 25th. What did you feel when you read the description of our day? Did just a teeny part of you wish that you could find that quiet, calm space with your family? You can. You don’t have to do this on the 25th and you don’t have to do it for an entire day if that seems too big. Start with a morning or an evening. Talk with your family about the benefits of time together. And, yes, a movie or restaurant meals are benefits. (I’m not above ‘buying’ family time!) Eliminate the distractions. Put the cell phones away (even yours). Make this a time for family.
What is the true gift of the season? Time with family. Grab the opportunity to have the kind of holiday with your kids that you really want.
© Rhonda Moskowitz, 2013, All Rights Reserved