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Old 12-19-2019, 11:46 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Midwest, USA
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Smile WE Wish You A Merry Christmas!

The day after Thanksgiving dawns the playing of Holiday music and storage areas are raided for the plethora of boxes labelled “Christmas stuff”. Once it is all unearthed and set semi neatly to the side, we wait for the month to end.

Christmas in our household truly and invariably begins on the first of December and is heralded in by the hanging of Advent Calendars and the quiet appearance of Christopher Pop-In-Kins. The first time he is spotted, we enjoy family story time reading about this special helper from the North Pole. While our older children have become slightly inured to the tale, they do delight in reminding wayward siblings to behave as the elf is watching. They do delight in helping us move the elf to a new vantage point before the little ones awake each day. We also set up the tree, sometimes real and sometimes fake, and spend the next few days decorating it.
One of our favorite traditions is the celebration St. Nicholas Day. The evening prior, we each place a single shoe in front of the fire place. It is delightful to see the looks of surprise and joy on the face of the entire family as they arise and find the bounty placed within their footwear.

In order to promote the “gift of giving” and “doing unto others” within our household, WE (Yep! The ROYAL WE, my wife and I) urge our children to perform one selfless act for someone each day, without complaint or seeking approval. Sometimes this is easier said than done. The younger children approach the task with wild abandon and amazing spirit. The teenagers are a touch angsty, though sometimes they surprise us with an odd moment of complete sincerity. Overall, this course of action has made our children aware of the positive impact one small act can have on those around them. I am proud to see them extend this spirit to other areas and other people in our lives. It also allows them a brief glimpse at the many things my wife and I do for each other. As children learn by watching, it is our great pleasure to shower each other with a million small kindnesses during this festive time.

Christmas Eve is typically an overwhelming flurry of activities (wrapping last minute presents, baking, snow forts, caroling) meant to distract and tire the children, with the result of tuckering out the adults instead. Part of the preparation for this day is the making of personalized gift tags. Each year has a theme, a color, or a medium. We also reuse these tags as the years go by, maintaining a tradition of reflection and camaraderie and creating nice mementos of years gone by. Just before bed, we allow the children to open ONE present. We then encourage them to set a semi-realistic timeline for Christmas day (Breakfast, gifts, and a visit to their grandparents always figure highly here).

Christmas morning is the time of torture and prolonged expectation. Any child (and adult! Aka ME) who loves schedules or order and flow are forced to wait as WE dilly dally over the making of OUR simple breakfast. While I may do the cooking, breakfast is not over until the lady of the house has reached an appropriate level of self-caffeination (or inner glee from the aforementioned wait!).
Once we embark upon the moment of gift opening, it is miraculously quiet as I help my youngest with distribution of gifts. We dissuade the children from having a free for all. Instead, we encourage them to pause and appreciate each gift and express gratitude to the gift giver.

Our children have learned that Christmas is my wife’s favorite season and have steadily worked to make each year a blessed memory for her. Yes, they step up their game a little bit around the holidays, but they seldom have to try to be better people. All in all, this is the time of year in which we reaffirm to ourselves that WE are raising decent human beings. Who could ask for more?
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