It’s Christmas, and I’ll be honest, I tend to lose my head. Come December, I go a little Buddy-the- Elf-crazy with the personal motto: If it’s made with sugar, then yes!
Left to my own devices, I’m a recipe for family havoc and can become a pain in the backside if I’m not careful. Christmas is magical and fun, but keeping my own self in check is one of the best things I can do for my kids and grandkids. I can start by keeping my expectations reasonable and focusing with intention on these four things:
1. Don’t overdo it.
Buying lots of toys for the grandkids is fun for me, but not always the best for them. It helps to remember that more isn’t always better, especially when it comes to presents. This year Geoff and I are being intentional with our gifts, choosing just a few for each grandkid and including a handwritten letter to each of them, sharing a favorite memory or two that we had with them over the past year. I want them to remember how much I love them, not how much I bought them.
2. Give your adult kids a break.
If you are grandparent reading this, stop and remember what it was like when your kids were little. School parties and programs, wrapping a mound of presents, baking dozens of cookies, searching for the ornament you bought for the dog last year. I can remember thinking I just want a night to myself. If you are nearby, give your son or daughter a real gift this year and offer to give them the night off while you watch the kids, and help with gift wrapping or cookie baking. If you live far away, give encouragement over the phone and send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant and offer to pay for babysitting.
3. Support their family rhythm.
Every family needs to develop their own rhythm when it comes to celebrating. If you have your heart set on everyone gathering for Christmas breakfast, check first to see if they have their own plans for jammies and cinnamon rolls at home. Be cheerfully supportive if this is the year they celebrate with the other grandparents and get creative about alternative dates. Christmas can happen before or after December 25th and remember that sometimes the best celebrations are the ones that are low key and flow with the house rules of bedtimes and sugar consumption.
4. Be a storyteller.
My husband has memories of his grandpa reading the Christmas story and always stumbling over the name Quirinius, and I remember my grandpa yelling, “Okay, all the grandkids pile up while we read the Christmas story!” I want to delight my grandkids with the gifts under the tree, but mostly I want them to remember how Geoff and I told them the real story of Christmas—how we always paused before we tore into the gifts to remember the birthday that changed the world.