The holidays can be an incredibly busy time. There are parties to attend, gifts to buy and wrap, and special foods and drinks. It’s all incredibly fun, but it can be overwhelming for our kids as well. We are constantly going places that are either unfamiliar or only vaguely familiar, and some activities have our kids up later or out for longer during the day than they are used to. We want the holidays to be fun, but we also want to give our kids some time to just be, with no pressure or extra stress.
Early on in our family life, after Zinashi had just joined our family, Jarod and I sat down and discussed what we wanted our holiday time with our children to be like. Up to that point, we had just balanced out things between our two families as well as we could, and it worked out fairly well since it was just the two of us, and we could be flexible. When we expanded our family, however, we knew that we wanted to build our own traditions and to make space in our lives for peace and calm in the midst of this busy time of year. While many things are still somewhat flexible, there is one thing that we decided would be non-negotiable, every single year.
While our children are little, on Christmas Day, we are committed to waking in our own beds at home, having Christmas breakfast together, and opening gifts together before we do anything else or see anyone else. It is a few hours carved out for just us, in the comfort and calm of our own little home. It is a tradition that we want our kids to be able to count on, to know that in the midst of the excitement of the holidays, we have time to just relax and enjoy each other.
Living far from family means that this commitment is a bit harder to accommodate, but we decided that first year, when we were still near family, that no matter what, this is a gift we want to give our children. We knew then that we might move far away, that some years we might end up boarding a plane on Christmas afternoon. But to us, it is worth it. To us, it is no small thing that we can be completely relaxed on Christmas morning, in the middle of a time that can be a little hard for our kids, who crave routine. There is plenty of time for excitement and new and different things the rest of the season. This time is just for us, and we love it.