Last weekend served as a rich reminder to me about what it means to truly dial things back and just be together as a family.
With our eldest daughter the unhappy recipient of a particularly fierce stomach flu, my husband and I pulled the curtains, took turns playing nurse and doing the laundry, and huddled up on the sofa while Little Sister took full advantage of being able to do whatever she wanted and performed puppet play after puppet play, calling all the shots.
We kept the lights dim and the music quiet. We whispered in hushed tones and made tea with honey. We stared at the lights on the Christmas tree for hours on end and kept the fire roaring.
With the holidays fast approaching, I am increasingly aware of the expectations that could easily transform our little family into a travelling circus sideshow. My parents will have arrived from out of province, and we’ll be to-ing and fro-ing in Vancouver to see my husband’s family — on both sides. Snow-filled frolics with cousins, aunts and uncles in Whistler and Pemberton are anticipated. And of course, dinners need to be planned, shopped for and made; baking must be prepared.
But as I reflect on the quiet that befell our house last weekend I am reminded what it is I enjoy about my family — and for the most part it doesn’t involve much of the song and dance that has hijacked our holidays in the past. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the visits and revelry, just in limited amounts, please and thank you.
What I really value is slowly waking and snuggling in our big bed in the mornings, discussions of hikes in the crisp, winter air, slow drawn-out breakfasts of crepes… the idea of a mid-afternoon nap with one of my girls.
For the next 2 ½ weeks there will be no rushing out of the house to make it to school on time. My husband can schedule his exercise for later than 7 a.m. We can fill our days with creativity. Play dates won’t have to be shoehorned into our schedule and there are no after-school activities to zip off to. In short, we’ll simply be able to enjoy our time.
So right now I am taking stock of what matters most, and honestly it’s not about saying yes to every single invitation we get this Christmas. This year we are going to pick and choose how we spend our precious 17 days off of school and work. If we are going to have a couple of very busy days, I intend to sandwich them with several very lax days on either side.
In a way, this sick day was good for all of us — it forced us to slow down and remember what we truly value: our health and each other.
This holiday we will not do anything out of obligation, nothing that isn’t full of eager anticipation and nothing that doesn’t bring us joy. That is my commitment to myself and to my family this year. I hope you can make it yours too.
I wish you and your family many blessings of peace, love and joy this Christmas.
Kirsten Andrews will be offering a seven-session Simplicity Parenting course beginning on Feb. 2. For information visit www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com, like Sea to Sky Simplicity Parenting on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.