Keeping Christmas First (while making it last)
by AJ Hofstetter
Just like that, we’re here again. Back to the countdown to Christmas. So before we continue our sprint to the big day and try to figure out how many events, family functions, and activities we can fit into each weekend between now and then, let’s talk about how we can make this Christmas count for our families…and how we can help the pace slow down while we’re at it.
Several weeks ago, my wife and I were at dinner and started talking about Christmas. We had recently had a pastor challenge us to not let our kids be Experience Rich but Relationship Poor. For our family, that was very convicting. It seems we’re always going. We’re always willing to provide more experiences for our kids, more opportunities to go, to do; to enjoy. But the challenge from the pastor was real. We don’t want to keep our family - to keep our children - always full of activities - of experiences - if it means making them poor in relationship. What if all the busyness is keeping us from the best parts of family: from connecting with them, from talking with them about what they need to talk about, from training them and showing them what matters?
So we wanted to be intentional about what this experience-rich time of the year could look like for our crew.
We know that for the pace of our lives, not relying on spontaneity and on-the-spot creativity always helps. It keeps us from defaulting to the same old things. It forces us out of routine and allows us to think outside the box of what it means to have “family time.” It also gives us permission to say “no” to things that don’t fit with our family.
So We Made a List
The list we made isn’t exhaustive, but it will hopefully give us some ways to help this Christmas season slow down enough to enjoy it in a new way together.
- Real Sledding (a giant hill that we have to hike to or drive to…hot chocolate…good sleds…the works)
- Ice Skating (same idea, less climbing, more cramping and falling down)
- Bentleyville (we probably won’t even spend the night…but just let the kids watch a Christmas movie or sleep on the way home)
- Swimming (at something like the Shoreview Community Center, where there’s tons of fun and at least some humidity)
- High Tea (definitely my wife’s contribution)
- Watch “A Christmas Story” (definitely my contribution)
- Hors d’oeuvres Night (a fun way to make dinner last all night and expose our kids to new foods)
That’s not our whole list. We won’t get to all of them and we aren’t bound to do any of them. But having our list is helping us be intentional as parents. It’s helping us think ahead about the kinds of memories we want to create around this special time of year. It’s helping us invest in time together as a family rather than in experiences. It’s helping us keep Christmas first while it’s also helping to make it last just a bit longer.
So what about you? What’s on your list?