By Mindy Hyatt Spradlin
I’m not sure about you, but in a family of two adults and four kids, the months of November and December are usually NUTS for us! Parties, gift exchanges, performances, and activity after activity often dominate our schedules. It’s sometimes beautiful chaos, and sometimes it’s just plain chaos. More than once I’ve found myself feeling stressed and worn out in the midst of what should be the season of gratitude and glory.
This year, with many frustrating COVID-19 restrictions and precautions in place, I believe we have a unique opportunity set up for us. It’s an opportunity I was initially hesitant to embrace, but one I now believe will be a great gift. For many years, my mom has taught me to ask myself one simple question when disappointment would strike, or things wouldn’t go as planned. “What does this make possible?” she would say. Those are hard words to hear in times of frustration, hurt and defeat. Often times, I’d have to set her question to the side and allow myself to process through my emotions before I could pick it up and think on it. But time and time again, it has proven to be a question that allows me to get out of my own way, think bigger and broader, and grab a hold of opportunities I would have otherwise completely missed.
I believe that very question, “What does this make possible?” is begging to be answered right now as we step into the uncharted waters of navigating a holiday season potentially filled with canceled plans, disappointment and a fairly empty calendar. If we allow ourselves to sit with the question for a bit of time and dare to even answer it, I think we’ll find we have a beautifully wrapped gift waiting for us to open: The gift of simplicity and connectedness with our family, specifically our children.
We have the opportunity to trade in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, even for just this year, and replace it with intentional, meaningful time and togetherness with our families. I encourage you, as I am encouraging myself, to slow down, listen to your intuition and ask what your family needs this holiday season.
Are there new memories or traditions you can create with your children this year? Are there old ones you can build on? What has frantic-ness robbed you of in the past that you can reclaim this year?
Here are a few ideas to get your minds moving:
1. Head to a local bookstore such Landmark Books, Bound Booksellers or even Barnes and Noble. Let each child, toddler or teen, pick out a Christmas book. Read them aloud together in the coming weeks.
2. Look up a recipe for chocolate crinkles, bake them together, and enjoy!
3. Make or prepare holiday cards and contact a local nursing home about dropping them off for residents. Many elderly people are alone this year and would greatly enjoy a sweet note of love.
4. Make a Christmas movie bucket list of 10+ movies. Have no guilt about snuggling up on the couch with those you love most and watching as many movies as you can.
5. Simply just BE with one another, fully present and fully connected.
As the anticipation and excitement of this special season begins to build, I’m unsure of how it will all unfold. How will this year be the same as years past? How will it be different? Just as others have said, “the only thing certain right now is uncertainty.” And truer words were never spoken. But when disappointment and sadness creep in at the first sign of things not panning out as I had hoped, I’m going to remember my mom’s words, “What does this make possible?”, and I hope you will too.