Christmas Countdown Conundrum
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas and all that comes with it.
But when a Facebook friend starts posting those “7 more Fridays until Christmas!” memes or asks if it’s too early to start decorating or listening to holiday favorites, it makes even the most festive, yuletide spirited mama want to throat punch the jolly old elf himself a little bit.
Oh, and the answer to that question – especially if Halloween or Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet – is YES. Every time.
I don’t want to sound like Oscar the Grouch singing “I Hate Christmas” (one of my all-time favorite Christmas tunes) or have folks calling me Scrooge or yelling, “Bah Humbug!” at me over social media.
I actually truly enjoy the twinkling lights (or if you’re like me, you get giddy whenever someone brings out the “old skool,” mega fire hazard known as bubble lights), carols, the gaudy baubles t adorning a tree that will sprinkle dried needles and sap all over your carpet for weeks, baking cookies with the family, and everything else that comes to mind when you think of Christmas. I may not believe in the rosy-cheeked fat man who shimmies down the chimney anymore, but I take great pride in crafting this illusion for my young daughter each year … or using it as a threat when absolutely necessary (you have Santa’s phone number on speed dial too, right?)
And I completely understand the:
desire to get your shopping done ahead of time so you can rest easy, knowing at least THAT portion of the holiday won’t be stressful;
need for stores to do one more big push in their fourth quarter reports to look favorable to the powers that be; and
excitement that is created when you start planning little family outings and selecting which community events you’ll go to this year.
I also know of people who are so jazzed about Christmas the moment they feel a slight chill in the air that they start crafting a scene inside and outside of their homes, making it look like Rudolph and his reindeer friends broke into a tinsel factory. I get it. Everyone has a favorite holiday, and for some of us, it really may feel like getting ready for the Big Show (“treat every day like Christmas,” right Buddy?).
But what messages are we sending (either directly or indirectly) to our kiddos by fast forwarding our calendars and racing through the other special days filled with friends and family, enjoying scrumptious food and traditions?
In a really wonderful piece on mindful parenting during the holidays, Dr. Jill Emanuele notes that we are so fixated on what’s to come“that we sometimes miss out on the little things that make life beautiful as it is.” It is only on the second-to-last Thursday of the month of November that we might take a few brief moments to cruise around the dining room table and scramble to think of something that we’re thankful for, often just repeating what someone has said before us.
Long before we all became attached to our devices to the point of excluding loved ones when out to dinner, trying to capture the perfect Instagram-worthy shots to share with our followers, my mom used to constantly demand that we “live in the moment.” I’d roll my eyes like any angst-ridden teenager and sigh. (Mind you, I didn’t have my first cell phone – the classic Nokia boxy looking one that had snake as its one and only game – until I went to grad school, though many of my friends had had cells and pagers long beforehand.)
As a mom now, I’m hyper aware that I’m guilty of getting sucked into whatever is lighting up the screen in my hand and missing out many times. It’s a bad habit, for sure. Coupled with the psychological, emotional, and physical effects of our excessive screen time (and I’m not just talking about those pediatric recommendations for our littles – this affects everyone at any age!), it’s no wonder our brains are always racing and thinking about what’s to come down the line. We want it and we want it now.
And don’t even get me started on the fact that Black Friday sales now start mere moments after the tryptophan has just started to take its toll on our overly gorged bellies! (Kudos to those stores who’ve stepped up this year and said, “No” to this ridiculous trend and are encouraging their employees to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with their family and friends, as it was intended.)
We live in an age where instant gratification is possible at any time, day or night, anywhere … and, dare I say with a healthy dose of entitlement to boot. (Don’t worry, millenials, I’m not singling you out like other generations do when they use that word.)
Yet I often think back to those scenes in the classic holiday movies, where everything (and I mean everything!) was shut down completely for a day or two and no one thought otherwise. The planning back then wasn’t a mad dash to plow down folks in an effort to get the latest gaming system or hot toy that your kid just HAS to have. It was focused instead on where relatives would camp out for a few nights, ensuring the dishes had been washed and all ingredients for the courses to be served were purchased days before. And that gave us more face-to-face time with relatives that lived further away, allowing multiple generations to come together and experience family traditions in a new way.
I could go on and on about this subject, but the real message here is to just take a moment and breathe. We all know how quickly these holidays fly by and how fast children grow up. Why not put the cell phones, tablets, and other devices down for a bit, sit down and look one another in the eyes, and enjoy EACH holiday at a leisurely pace before diving right into the next …