My mind is racing and there are 5,000 things to be done today. It is the first day.
Today feels like the real first day of the year. My babies are all shuttled off to school and while I mourn the cozy, sleepy time of winter break with our late nights all gathered into the living room and our sleeping in; its difficult to really buckle down and get to work when everyone’s schedules are so relaxed.
During break I really focused on spending time with my children. Their most important way of observing any given holiday is by sharing it with people important in their lives. So, we spent a lot of time together. We watched movies, we played games, we went on outings, we had family over and spent good, quality time just being.
And then I checked in with them. I asked how their break was going. I asked if there was anything they wanted to do that we hadn’t done. We were hitting all the high points.
This year at Christmas, we really did a good job with the gifts. You’ll remember over the past few years I’ve been trying really hard to put less emphasis on Christmas and not make it bigger than Ramadan? This year, I think we’ve succeeded.
I had read on Momastery about this gift giving guide Glennon uses, “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.” My love language isn’t gifts. I always find them terribly difficult, and the more I love someone, the more difficult it is for me to buy for them.
But the guide helped me align Christmas with Ramadan in terms of gifts. I grew up with an abundance of packages under the tree. When Khaled and I started our own Christmas celebrations, we gifted to each other, and then it became more about gifting to the children. When they were so very young, we went overboard. Soo many packages. But now that we are consciously working towards balance, I needed a guide.
As we wrapped the gifts I felt anxious. There weren’t as many. The items we selected were very specific for each child. They fell within the categories. As we placed them under the tree, I saw a lot of space left. I tried to arrange them so they took up more room. Then, I took a deep breath and went to bed.
On Christmas morning, the children were all excited. They exclaimed when they opened each gift and was truly happy with each item. They were happy for each other.
I, on the other hand, was troubled. It was so different for me. I didn’t want anyone to feel sad. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they were loved any less. I didn’t want them to feel disappointed. Like they deserved less than their cousins or friends.
After talking to Khaled and the children, I realized (again) that they didn’t need a whole lot of packages to feel loved. They had told me what they needed to feel loved, and the number of packages under the tree didn’t have anything to do with it.
What they needed was to be together. Spending time together, doing the things they liked with people they love.
Yesterday, we were all very testy. We knew that our cocoon time was ending and we were all irritable. We didn’t want to return to schedules that disrupt our body’s rhythm and the stress of school. We bickered and snipped and were cranky. We undecorated the house and packed away the holiday decor.
Then we settled into our evening routine on the last day of break, we all admitted that we would miss our time together. The hours before bed when we sat together, all in one room. The easy, sleepy mornings waking gently and easing into the day would be gone again until Spring Break.
Unless we have a snow day.
So, today when I sent them off to school with big kisses and hugs, and got my day started with laundry and tea and the list of 5,000 things to do, I feel that we accomplished something very important this Christmas.
We lowered the grand expectations. I set down some of the baggage of my childhood, and we realigned our actions to fit our values.
Happy New Year,