Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Gift of Peace

When I say Christmas or holidays how does that make you feel? I'm playing armchair psychologist today. This time of cheer and good will, is not for so many. For so many of us the holiday season is synonymous with the season of stress. How many of us really stop to ask ourselves what it is that is stressing us out? Go on ask yourself why.

Is it the shopping? Is it family obligations? Is it a financial issue? Is it just plain overwhelming? How can we preserve the sacredness of the time of year and make it extra special for our children while maintaining our sanity. I'm asking myself these questions. I'm also trying to figure out what to get the kids that is fun and useful and won't end up broken or at the Goodwill in three months. Not easy questions to ponder especially given our busy schedules that are about to get even busier!

(Deep Breath...Deep Breath)

So this year I did a few things differently and I thought I would share them with you.

The kids get new clothes every year for Christmas. Usually pajamas, socks, underwear and any other winter essential that they may need. So this past weekend I went through their closet. Mismatched or holey socks made their way to the trash or the craft bin. Too small underwear in good condition went in the Goodwill bag along with shirts, pants and t-shirts and dresses that have been outgrown. Nice sweaters or jackets go to friends with younger kids. It feels so good to have cleaned out and to have room and hangers for the gifts they'll be receiving.

To help with our budget and because I know the kids get gifts from family, we have chosen to buy them only one toy. I can't say what it is exactly, because both my kids read this blog. Let's just say it'll be in the sports equipment or art supply category.

I went to Costco and bought a huge bag of meatballs. I love these as I can make quick meatball sandwiches for lunch, or a quick pasta and meatball dinner. If friends drop by, they make delicious appetizers when drizzled with Teriyaki sauce. I also made sure I'm stocked with essentials such as canned tuna, spices, rice and potatoes. I have frozen veggies and homemade frozen soups at the ready. Being able to make dinner quickly is a blessing to our health and our pocketbook.

I've let go of a lot of the expectations this year. For instance, instead of Christmas Cards for everyone in my address book, I will be sending out just a few to friends and family far away who I don't see as often as I'd like. I've also given myself permission to send the cards out as late as January 31. It's always a good time to let people know you are thinking of them.

I've carved out a few minutes in the morning to focus on all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us this year. They have been many. This is important because as Christmas gets closer, I usually start to panic with thoughts that I haven't "bought" enough, or people won't care for what I'm getting them or a million other useless things start going through my head that have nothing to do with Christmas. It's important to me to be able to focus on the gifts of family, friends, health and many other blessings.

Most importantly I want my kids to learn from us that the best gifts cannot be neatly wrapped and placed under the tree. Sitting together on a frosty morning sipping hot chocolate. Enjoying grandma and grandpa's company as they listen to the funny stories about when I was a child. Everyone helping to make tamales while we listen to Christmas carols. Playing board games late into the night.

Every moment is a teaching/learning moment. It's a chance to create memories that will be cherished or a huge effort will be made to forget them. The best gift we can give our children, family, friends and ourselves is the gift of peace.

Wishing you and yours many wonderful blessings. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!