Over the holidays I wanted to start a new tradition. In light of my brother passing last year I long to do more with his children. The 2 youngest are 7 and 4 years of age. Audrey simply LOVES her cousins and is always requesting to spend time with them. So Jeff suggested having them over to make Christmas ornaments. I took his simple, easy suggestion and ran with it. Or should I say that I took his simple and easy idea and added chaos with too many activities, not age appropriate activities, and too high of expectations. Needless to say my great idea blew up in my face as an epic failure. Here is how it played out.
We arrived at my sister-in-laws to pick up the children. Since we were early, Jeff, Audrey, Ethan and I went inside to wait. Audrey and Ethan became a little excited and rambunctious as more family and friends arrived. They were climbing and singing and jumping in an area that is no longer baby-proofed because there are no babies. As they were being wild animals, I mean young children, Jeff left to go to the store to pick up dinner – I thought it would be fun for the kids to put toppings on individual pizzas.
My niece and nephew arrived and everyone was laughing and jumping and playing (we do have a rather excitable bunch!). Alas, I gathered up the four wildly excited children. We put on shoes, coats, waved goodbye, buckled seat belts and we were off!
But instead of driving home to just let them spend time together, I decided it would be a great idea to see the Christmas lights at a nearby community park. After waiting in line for approximately 20 minutes, we pulled in and the very nice gentleman taking our donation kindly mentioned that “Santa Claus” was present that evening. Thank you kind gentleman for saying that loud enough for the children to hear. Of course we HAD to see Santa Claus and I was trying to create a magical night. So, we drove around the park, unloaded the four children, waited another 15 minutes to see the jolly man and took a wonderfully cute but very distracted photo.
We then reloaded into the car and headed for home. Luckily Jeff had vetoed my individual pizzas by this time for a family size pizza (due to over crowded stores the night before Christmas eve) . I was glad for this, although I had to explain to the kids that we weren’t making individual pizzas because it took so long to go through the park and it was past supper time.
You would think that I would have scrapped my other ideas and focused on simple together time. But NO. We went home, ate the pizza, and even though the little ones were ready to go play I insisted on making the ornaments. The four year old made one simple ornament and announced “I am done, can I go and play?” I was shocked, who wouldn’t want to make ornaments and decorate?! These ornaments had stickers you could put on them and there was glitter! After a few more minutes of forced togetherness I excused everyone.
But I had also wanted to make sugar cookies. So, the 7 year old and I mixed up and rolled out some sugar cookies. Instead of simply enjoying our time together, I then drug Audrey and the 4 year old back to the table to attempt cookie cutting. I mean come on, isn’t it fun to make Christmas cookies? Actually, with the 4 year old and Audrey (my 2 year old) it was really just messy and quite boring for them. So, I let them go back to play. As we baked the cookies and let them cool I realized that it was past bedtime and so it was time to find quiet play. I once again had to gather the children to do what I wanted them to do, and I expected them to enjoy it! Happy Holidays kids!
Maybe next time I will remember the following:
1.) The best times are not necessarily spent DOING, but rather by just BEING together.
2.) Free play IS an activity, especially for younger children.
3.) Memories, good and bad, are made with every encounter and your reflection on them often reflects the sum of the whole more then the individual moments.
4.) Expect children to act like… well children.
So, although I plan to stick with the “ornament making tradition” each year, I will try to limit one evening to just that activity. Should I want to do the other things on my list then I will try to spread them out so that we all enjoy them a little more!
I hope that everyone had a happy holiday and create more traditions in this New Year! I’d love to hear about some of your experiences at trying to create your own holiday traditions! Do you have a classic Santa photo like mine?