We are two days into the school Christmas break and a friend unexpectedly took D1 and D2 for a sleepover tonight so that set me thinking about the things I enjoy about the Christmas holidays. I haven’t had much time for writing lately as I have taken on a second job for a few months and the extra workload is consuming my blog writing time.
12 Things I like about the Christmas Holidays
1) Freedom from the school lunch tyranny
Our school finished for the holidays on Thursday and I was thinking that night about the fact that I didn’t have to make any school lunches for Friday and how nice that was. At the beginning of the semester I carefully crafted a two-week menu of school lunches that I could work through every two weeks before starting again. It was nicely balanced in terms of nutritional foods and variety so the girls wouldn’t get tired of eating the same thing everyday. Our school operates on a balanced school day so there are actually two times in the day when they eat and have longer breaks instead of the standard lunch and two short recesses. That means a little more work figuring out what food to pack for the day. That menu is still posted on the fridge for easy reference. Sadly it didn’t even last through one cycle before the complaints about the food started. I thought I had taken into account all the food likes and dislikes between the two of them. I was so wrong. I forgot that food likes this week can easily be dislikes next week. The result was that I winged it most days, which made it more mentally taxing every evening. The break means freedom from school lunches. Before we go back in the new year I will create a new menu and see how that works out. Maybe I can at least get a week’s worth of lunch items that don’t result in complaints…
2) Unexpected Sleepovers
We went to D1’s best friend’s house for a gingerbread house decorating party this afternoon and stayed all afternoon and ate candy, chips and icing for dinner. Then the kids concocted a strategy for turning the whole thing in to a sleep over. They approached the adults en masse – strength in numbers being part of the strategy – and they fanned out to ask their parents. nobody asked the host parents. They had their arguments coordinated and they made their case each in turn. We knew it was coming because they had discussed their strategy with one of the parents in the room, but they aren’t so hot at quiet whispers. Thanks to our spy we were prepared. The first point of their argument was that tomorrow is a holiday and they don’t have to go to school. It was great of our friends to host 8 girls for an unplanned sleep over. It is a nice break for us and it will be a fun time for the girls. Especially since they are all hopped up on gingerbread house decorations!
3) Christmas lights
We have had lots of snow around here and there are plenty of houses with Christmas lights outside. Coming home tonight it was cheerful to see the lights and come home to our own house with Christmas lights and see the lights of the tree through the window. Our house is by no means significantly decorated. I am not sufficiently organized in the fall to make that happen, but we have coloured lights and a couple of candy cane lights outside and it just makes things brighter during the longer nights.
December is always a month with lots of opportunities for holiday-related gatherings. I have quite a few work-related opportunities because I am working two jobs and I have a few offices for one of my jobs so I went to a few work parties and opted out of a couple of work parties. We were also invited to a number of parties at people’s home and made it to a few and didn’t make it to a few others. We spent the afternoon today with other parents telling and sharing stories. We are hosting friends on Christmas day for dinner. We have family coming to visit for the week after Christmas. One of our traditions that we won’t be participating in this year is that my extended family gathers with another family on Boxing Day. This is a tradition that has been happening for more than 60 years since my grandparents and their friends immigrated to Canada from England following WWII. Boxing Day is typically the only day I see our family friends these days, but they are family and it is a tradition that I cherish and will miss this year.
5) Giving stuff to people
We don’t have a lot of spare cash lying around – hence the second job – and I don’t have the means to give people gifts whenever the mood strikes me. I would like to be able to give more. I’d like to be able to give to more charities and I’d like to be able to buy my wife flowers, etc. just because I feel like it. I can’t afford to do that throughout the year. However we always manage to pull it together around Christmas and I give myself permission to spend the money I don’t really have to give things and experiences to others. I love watching people open their presents and their reactions. I enjoy picking things to give others and while I am not a fan of mall crowds I don’t mind too much when I know what I am looking for because then I can do my in and out shopping and avoid the frustrating wandering with all the other aimless shoppers. I am not a window shopper and I don’t get pleasure from shopping as an act in and of itself. I do enjoy giving meaningful things – and maybe the occasional rubber snake in a stocking for my mother.
6) Family Time
The kids are home, I have a few days off and work is slower which means I can have a more relaxed approach to life for a few weeks while everything slows down. It means I get to spend some more quality time with the girls and with Laura. I can never have enough time to spend with my family. Life and work get in the way of that. We all live with many conflicting priorities and need to make choices about how we allocate our time and resources. I choose to get up early to have time for myself before getting D1 and D2 up for school. I choose to be home for dinner and bed time pretty well every night of the week. Sometimes work and other commitments get in the way of that, although not often. I choose to attend school assemblies as I am able and work from home time to time so that I can pick the girls up from school on occasion. I am not religious and so Christmas is an entirely secular holiday for me and is all about family and friends.
7) Playing in the Snow
We live in Ottawa and Ottawa gets snow. Lots of snow. It is one of the things I like about living here. I love the snow – in spite of having to clear the driveway. I enjoy the opportunities for playing in the snow. We will make time in the next couple of weeks to go tobogganing. The girls make snow angels and climb snow mountains. We have snowball fights on the way to school and sometimes I pull them to school on a sled if the sidewalk ploughs haven’t cleared all the snow on the sidewalk yet. We live on a main street so the plough has typically been by at least once by the time we walk to school. During the holidays there are more opportunities for playing in the snow and I will do my best to take advantage of those opportunities.
8) Sleeping in
Since there is no school I don’t need to incorporate waking the girls up and getting them ready for and to school before I go to work. That means I don’t have to get up as early in the morning. Of course they wake up earlier when they don’t need to be pried out of bed for school and sometimes D3 – although she is sleeping through the night most nights now – chooses to wake up earlier than I want to be awake. I do get to sleep in some days and I am always good for a bit more sleep than usual.
Cooking goes with gatherings and spending time with friends and family. I like to cook and I especially enjoy making bigger meals. I enjoy the logistics of it and the creativity required. I especially like the fact that I get to eat the end result.
Sometimes at Christmas there are cookies. I don’t like making cookies since I tend to burn or otherwise wreck them. I do enjoy eating cookies though. They are yummy. MMM Bring me cookies!
11) Christmas Movies
I am a sucker for a good Christmas movie. Miracle on 34th street and Rudolph are my favourites – I haven’t seen them yet this year so I will need to see if I can find them on netflix or otherwise online. I pretty well respond as the movies are designed to make me respond. I always feel like I am watching them with a smile on my face and I feel good after watching them.
Shopping crankiness aside, I feel like there are more smiles on peoples’ faces in the lead up to Christmas. I feel pretty excited and positive about Christmas. I don’t like the commercial aspects of it. I love the spirit of the season. I enjoy having a bright light to focus on in the dark months of winter. I enjoy the rituals and the excitement of kids and the things I have mentioned above. New Years is a part of it too. There is a sense of renewal or at least contemplation about the year that has passed. Even in crappy years there are always things to celebrate at the end of the year, even if it is just the fact of having survived another year. I am an early Christmas Day riser because I am excited about what the day will bring. I am excited to watch people open their presents. I am typically awake around four or five on Christmas Day. I take after my grandfather who was always up early for Christmas and my Dad who was an early riser when we were kids. It is a joyful, jolly time of year and I love it.
So HO HO HO Merry Christmas to all of you!