Today’s topic is determining what is important for each holiday and setting your priorities.
If you are anything like me, you are busy.(Ha ha! Busy is such a small word for the reality of it.) I find that if I don’t sit down and plan out what is important to me, those things come and go and I’ve missed them completely only to have done or participated in something that I could have done without. I am certainly not super woman. I have learned that there are things I have to say "no" to. I enjoy my holidays when I can take a breath and really experience things with my husband and children. Someday I will have entire place settings that match, a wonderfully decorated house, and all of those nice-to-have things. I have nothing against all of that, it just doesn’t fit our budget or time. Right now, those things are not on my priority list. My priority list is about the feelings, values and memories I am making with and for my children.
I have to sit down with my husband and we talk about all the things that are important to us. We talk about what memories we want to be making for our children. I have the most amazing memories from when I was little. Our Grandma calls them memory pockets. She talks about saving up all our happy memories in these pockets and tucking them away. Then when we are having a tough time we can reach into our memory pockets and pull out a wonderful memory to make us feel warm and make us smile. What a great way to think of memories. I also think memory pockets are for the times when things are going well, too. They are great to remember and be thankful for all the amazing things we have done in our lives.
Some of the things on our list this year are the Angel Tree with our kids, driving around looking at Christmas lights, picking out special ornaments for each son and spending as much time with family as possible. I like to shop online in the evenings as much as possible because I would rather spend my time interacting with my family, than pushing through crowds of people. There is no right or wrong answer here. We are simply suggesting you go ahead and sit down and plan out the feelings, values and memories you want to make with your kids and set up your priority list now, as we are ramping up for the slew of holidays coming our way. I hope that 30 years from now, my kids will be telling their children great stories from their childhood. When my kids remember these memories, I want them to feel warmth and love in remembering these things.
Now I am asking you to link up and let us know what is important to you? What are your must-do items for the holidays? What memories do you want to make for your family?
And because it is November, the lovely month of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be nice to remember what I am thankful for. The thing in my life I am most thankful for is my little family! We had a difficult time getting pregnant in the first place. This is almost unheard of in our very fertile family. But it was a struggle. I had a laparoscopy to remove as much endometrial scars as possible and we tried and tried. I was extremely sick with hypermesis for both my pregnancies and had a handful of difficulties during my second pregnancy. It wasn't just easy for us to even bring our sons into this world. I am thankful EVERY DAY for the two children I do have. I don't know how or why I got so lucky to have them, but they are mine! I am amazed by them and am just so thankful to have them!
Rebecca here: I love this 8 weeks of Heartfelt and Homemade Holidays. I'm quite excited for what we have coming up for you! I think each topic is near and dear to my heart! But I especially love this week's topic. I used to run around crazy, at the holidays, trying to do too much. I've changed and now want enjoyment out of the Holidays, as well as down time with my kids. The down times are some of my favorite moments. As Anjeanette mentioned, we really do have great memories from our Holidays. That is why it is so important to me what kind of memories I am passing on to my kids. I actually sit with my kids and ask them what their priorities for Christmas are. Every year they say something different. One year it was having Hot Cocoa, and another year it was sledding in the snow (for us that means a day trip to somewhere that actually has snow!). I make my own list of priorities. Then, I literally schedule it all out. If things don't get scheduled, they don't happen. I make sure my 3 kids top priority will happen. Then, we talk about the things that are on my list. This helps me keep their priorities in with mine. For me my priorities are a Christmas story each night before bed, to do something (even super simple like writing out our lists to Santa, or drinking hot chocolate with Santa shaped marshmallows) Christmas-y each day, watching Holiday Inn with my children, the Angel Tree like Anjeanette said, Christmas Eve with my side of the family, and the smells and sounds of the seasons are also quite important to me. I also feel it's a time to teach children about other people's customs, and to focus on thinking outside of ourselves. This is done by celebrating other countries traditions, as well as actually thinking through (and hopefully making) great gifts for the wonderful people in our lives. I have a whole slew of other things we will do as well, however, these are my MUST dos. This time of year is so magical to me. I am sure it is from the wonderful memories that I have from my childhood. I am determined to provide my children with their own magical memories of this time of year.
From the perspective of a special needs mother here are my thoughts on the holidays. I absolutely love the holidays and would be crushed not to celebrate. Early on, the holidays were good because my son was too little to understand it all and that was OK. It was normal for a baby or toddler to have a bad patch because of missing a nap. We didn't know any better. After my son was DX'd with Autism everything changed. I joined a parenting autism news group. When the holidays came around so many of the parents were anti holidays because of bad experiences they had with their children, family and friends Nobody understood that it is IMPORTANT for their special needs child to have a place, in a house full of people, that is quiet where that child can go to escape all the noise and fuss so that they could regroup themselves and not have a meltdown. I stopped reading the news group. It was too depressing. I love the holidays and all that goes with it and I was not about to let others take that away from me. Oh dear this was suppose to be short! Sorry.
Here is what I do to celebrate the holidays with my family. I set my priorities by thinking about where my son is at and how much he can handle. I am a big fan of decorating the day or weekend after Thanksgiving. We always trim the tree together, always. We set aside time to write lists for Santa. Oh and one of his elves started visiting us last year. Elphie was our elf on a shelf. We set aside time to go visit Santa and go for walks to see all the lights around our neighborhood and others near by. Afterwards we all have warm chocolate to warm us up. Generally speaking we don't do too many holiday parties and we play it fairly low key. I take my cue from what my boys want to do. I have stopped trying to have them help me pick out a toy for the toy drive. Instead I pick the toy and together we drop it off at a toy drive. If the lines for Santa are too long we go during the week when the lines are shorter. We read Christmas stories. I always try to find at least one book that has a story that has a trait that I would like my boys to learn. I don't want the holidays to be all about what they get on Christmas eve and day. I like to share traditions that I remember as a kid like going to the mountains and cutting down our own tree from a tree farm. Pick what is important and let time slow down. Take lots of pictures of each event. My boys have grown to LOVE all that comes with Christmas. My oldest always has a quiet place to go when we visit family. They love and understand him and how he is. We don't get upset when he does not want to open gifts with everybody else (he just can't take all the noise and distraction). However, he gave us a lovely gift last Christmas and came in to open gifts with everybody else. He is always invited to do the things everybody else is doing but he is also able to choose to opt out. My point is don't ever stop giving them the option to join in. I don't let my son's autism keep us from doing things. We look for ways that he can join in.
Hoping you and yours have a Fabulous Holiday Season.
W would love it if you left a comment with a link or just a note saying what is on your priority list. What are your must-dos for the holidays? What memories do you want to make for your children? What things must you do in order for your heart to be filled with warmth and love?
Or even better, leave us a link, on our McLinky, of your blog post telling us how you set your priorities. Be sure to link directly to the post and not just your blog.