The expectations of a perfect Christmas each year leave almost all parents feeling frustrated. We want the perfect gifts, the perfect setting, the perfect dinner, the perfect family experience…perfect, perfect, perfect. We know it’s impossible, but we keep trying nonetheless and sometimes it turns downright painful. In the immortal words of Clark Griswold: “Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody is walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here.”
Obviously, the purpose of Christmas has nothing to do with any of that nonsense. Linus explains the meaning pretty spot on in case we need a refresher. So how do we change the formula? How can we reduce the stress and bring joy and goodwill with our family? There are methods of coping and dealing with holiday frustration. Here are some ideas to enhance your family holiday experience.
It’s Okay to Keep It Simple
Simple things do not cause stress. It’s not simple to drive 200 miles to a Christmas tree farm with the family and all that brings and cut down the most perfect tree ever. It’s not simple to outdo Martha Stewart decorating and cooking. She’s Martha Stewart for a reason. But it is simple to put into the game plan things that truly make an impact. When my kids were younger, I’d read Christmas-themed stories to them between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The whole family would look forward to jumping up on our bed and hear Daddy using silly voices and dramatic inflection reading stories about reindeer, fat men in red suits, and the like. Sometimes we would even create our own stories using nothing but imagination. They will always remember those times.
Make Time to Laugh and Play
The one constant gift that outweighs all others to our children is giving them our time. Go outside and play a Turkey Bowl football game. Build a snowman or pretend you are depending on the climate. Stay away from the big crowd festivals and instead, go and admire local decorations and photograph them. Be silly. Give them reindeer rides on your back. Make them laugh…make your wife laugh. Your house will be overflowing with holiday spirit.
Celebrate True Meaning
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” The great gift of hope for all mankind is why we celebrate this joyful season. What gift is greater than to have hope? We have plenty of stress, plenty of worry, plenty of suffering, but to be given hope? It changes everything. Allow that truth to preside in the heart of your family this season, and all else will calmly fall into place.Purposeful giving creates lasting joy.
It’s Better to Give than Receive
Purposeful giving creates lasting joy. Actual giving comes from sharing our most valuable resources: time and wealth. Light up your Christmas this year by serving and giving. Loving our neighbor is a universal law that transcends all religion and dogma. Try to find a need and fill it, and in the same action, your heart will be filled as well. Merry Christmas!
Huddle up with the family this holiday season and have story nights.