Don’t blink. Christmas will be over.
Every year - without fail – December flies by. So every December I vow to try and slow things down, live in the moment and enjoy the season. It's easy to get caught up, to rush, to forget that family is what is most important.
We have some favorite things that we do as a family, to enjoy the season a bit more.
- Remember the reason for the season. I'm surely not here to preach - I'm just as guilty as anyone - getting caught up in the gifts, the wrapping, the shopping. Whatever it is you celebrate, it’s easy to become a part of the hustle and bustle we all complain about. It’s important to take time to remember what it is all about, especially for our kids. Everything is so rushed, so stressful and we all feel the pressure. So instead, share what it all means. You can donate to a shelter (time, food, clothing, money), adopt a family in need, or do something nice for someone. It takes a few years under your belt to know that giving really is better than receiving.
- Make a homemade present. This is another way to sort of forget the commercialization of the holiday season (and save some money). I look at my tree and around my home and I see all of the homemade gifts I've received over the years. They are my favorites. I cherish each and every one of them. Some are fancy, others simple. So, even if you're not super creative, do your best (head to Pinterest for ideas). Whether it’s an ornament or the perfect picture in a handmade frame, the recipient will love it. My kids love making gifts like these, and they beam when giving them to loved ones.
- Watch your favorite Christmas shows. It can be "Polar Express" or "Frosty," it doesn’t matter. Watch them with your kids, have fun together and re-live your childhood. Remember when you had to have your bath all finished, and pajamas on before you could watch? Yep, me too. Who doesn't love when Charlie Brown picks that iconic tree or when Linus gives his monologue on the true meaning of Christmas?
- Build a gingerbread house. Oh, this is so much fun. We do this every year. Some years, our house looks as if it should be condemned, other years, it is high-quality housing. Add your yummy frosting, some sweet and colorful candy, and you’re all set. It is always fun, especially for the kiddos. You can buy the kits at most grocery or big box stores.
- Bake some cookies. Yummy. I remember doing this with my grandmother as a child. They were all those fabulous Italian cookies back then. We don't get that fancy in my house - just some cut-outs which are always fun for the kids to decorate.
- Make a holiday craft. We actually just did this. We made a bunch of paper snowflakes and hung them on the windows. We spent about an hour working hard on our little flakes and they make it look pretty festive around here.
- Go ice skating. Yep, this is a good one. Lace up with the family and head out. There are many options in just about every community. We are hoping to go to the outdoor rink at Canalside soon. There's something special about skating around and grabbing some hot chocolate.
- Build a snowman. Or better yet - an entire snow family. Of course, this is weather-dependent, but it's such a cool thing to do. Bundle the kids up and have a blast. Hot cocoa when you get in, and it's the perfect afternoon.
- Drive around and check out holiday lights. This is such a beautiful thing to do, and if you're driving, you don't have to worry about being cold. It doesn't have to be a formal festival of lights, we love driving through neighborhoods. Put Christmas tunes on the radio and sing along as you drive around.
- Be grateful. I try and say this - and do this - all the time. Sometimes, we forget. It's easy to forget. But, there are plenty of folks who have a tough time during the holidays. They're down on their luck, lonely, or suffering. This is a time to appreciate the blessings that we have, hold onto them, and remember how lucky we are.
- Go Christmas caroling. This is new to our family bucket list. It will be our first Christmas in our new home in East Aurora and we can’t wait for the annual carolcade here. Every year, just about the entire town walks main street and sings. We will be there, all bundled up, singing tidings of joy.