What an exciting time of the year! The wish lists are getting longer. My evening walks have been so pleasant as neighbors are putting up twinkling lights that add such cheer to an otherwise gloomy night.
I've been thinking a lot about what I want my children's experience to be this season. What do I want them to remember? What do I hope they are looking forward to?
No matter our spiritual beliefs, I think it's safe to say we all want the hearts of our children to be filled with joy and thankfulness, excitement, and wonder.
Soft candlelight, delicious food, a crackling fire, laughter, togetherness, and happiness are what the holidays are about to me. This is the time we pull out board games and laugh with our cousins from afar until our sides hurt.
This warm feeling of connection has a word in Danish: "hygge," pronounced hi-ga with a short i as in the word “hill.” My New Year's resolution this past year was to bring more hygge into our lives.
I enlisted the help of a friend, rearranged the living room, added warm lighting and more pillows, and created a cozy room that practically begged my family to relax into it at the end of the day. As if by magic, the whole family now naturally gravitates to the living room, which was previously used mainly for walking through. Sometimes we read, sometimes we snuggle, and many times we talk and recant our days.
This simple change to the end of our days has brought our family closer and changed our whole feeling about what it means to be home. The spirit of the holidays can indeed live throughout the year!
In consciously trying to draw my children's focus away from gifts, gifts, and more gifts during this time of the year, I encourage my children to talk excitedly about who we are going to see at our holiday gatherings, which family members will be present, the fun games we will play, and the predictable traditions we look forward to at our celebration. This is the time of year when I bring out our special German candle holders with miniature people who dance by the power of the heat of the flames.
My family draws a lottery of names for gift-giving. I love the opportunity to take each child shopping for a special gift for the family member whose name he or she received. It gives us a chance to think in depth about that person and what they might like.
In remembering holidays past, we often remember the overall feeling or a special event or tradition. The specific gifts are mostly lost in the mists of time.
I hope we can all give our children what they really want: our time and our love. They likely won't remember the details, but they will remember the feelings and the connection. What warmth will our children remember of our together time? What warm memories will our children remember about the holidays?
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