Candy Allan: Having a kid-paced holiday

Do you have what you need to cook for Thanksgiving? Did you get your house cleaned yet for company? How’s the Christmas shopping going?

For adults, the holiday season is one long to-do list on top of the regular errands, chores and tasks of daily life.

Scheduling can be a nightmare — which set of grandparents do you visit first? Do you go anywhere on the holiday itself? Did you remember to pencil in the Christmas play at church, the school concert and your nephew’s solo performance at their church?

With all the rush and extra obligations, it can be hard to enjoy any of the season. I know this first-hand — I’ve had a couple of years when it doesn’t feel as though there’s been a holiday of any sort because everything became just one more item to be crossed off a list.

I don’t like those years. I can’t get them back and I missed so much. Sure, we made it to everything, but it was an unsuccessful year because it didn’t make any memories to remember later.

When I start to get into “mechanical mom” mode and approach everything as just another task, I have to almost physically step back. When I need to refocus I look no further than my kids.

In the weeks and days leading up to Thanksgiving, my daughter eagerly anticipated the day. I’ve turned over decorating the house to her, so her “work” for the holiday has been complete since just after Halloween, but the joy kept growing.

The thought of seeing widespread family members brought her nothing but joy. The idea of extra dishes to wash didn’t cross her mind once before the dinner was finished.

She’s also been hard at work creating presents for family members. She does have a limited Christmas budget but wanted to give more than just what she could spend.

It’s all there — the happiness, the love, the joy of doing for others. That’s what I tend to forget as I try to figure out how to get everyone from point A to point B.

When you look at all the things that make the holidays magical for your kids, it’s easy to see what should be left off the ever-growing to-do list.

The kids don’t care if there are 15 different varieties of Christmas cookies if they get to help bake and decorate the three kinds you actually can get done with their assistance.

(Yes, break-and-bake cookies from the grocery store DO count. You can put sprinkles on them just as easily as from-scratch homemade cookies. Especially if your kids are small, this is a great option.)

They also don’t care if you have the carpet deep-cleaned before the family comes to visit or if the tops of the doorframes are dusty. (And if your mother-in-law cares … well, you don’t have to live with her.)

What matters is the time you spend with the kids. Take a moment to look at the season through their eyes and it’ll all be clear.

Let’s be honest, I’ve been making up this parenting thing as I go along ever since my son was born. I know there’s more experienced parents out there and folks with different ideas. Respond to my column by emailing me at callan@pioneergroup.com, and you might see your thoughts in print in an upcoming issue of the Pioneer.

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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