Surviving the Christmas Rush

Christmas time has hit us and we have been a little caught off guard this year.  We have fallen behind on our writing as we have been trying to keep up with all the holiday planning, shopping, and activities going on this year.  Actually the biggest hurdle has been keeping healthy.  I am trying to stay positive and not write about the negative all the time but the past few weeks have been really tough.  At the moment all five of us are feeling the effects of a bug that has been passed around the house for almost a month.  This can be a real challenge as responsibilities never go away and it can be hard to stay cheery when you are sick.  Let’s just say the tension has been a little higher than normal.

As we speed our way towards Christmas here are some of the things we are doing and thinking about.

There is still some internal conflict when it comes to celebrating Christmas.  We have a lot of fun as a family but the kids are still most excited about what is going to be under the tree.  We all went to a Santa Claus parade and everyone had a lot of fun but when I asked them what they liked best the unanimous answer was the candy they got.  That is kids for you but it got me thinking of a past blog, Can We Protect Our Kids From Materialism.

The answer always has to be balance.  We have been shopping and the kids will be spoiled once again with some great, and probably some not so great, toys.  To make room for this onslaught Martin was given permission to clean up our playroom.  In his words the room was a mess, disaster, and needed swift and drastic action.  I distracted the kids and let him go at it.  It was about a year ago around the same time when Martin wrote Control Toy Clutter when the toy room was last re-organized.  Martin got rid of around 6 big boxes of toys he considered were not being played with and arranged the room with the premier toys including many that were buried under the clutter.  The reaction by the kids were very positive and instead of wondering where most of the toys disappeared to they started playing with long lost toys as if they were new again.  We left the boxes in the garage in case there were some toys that they really wanted, and there were a couple, but now most of the toys are going to disappear forever. It is amazing how many toys we collect in a year and we know that we will have to do this at least annually as the kids get older.

Once again we are doing a family tradition of an advent calendar and for the second year in a row we are not giving the kids toys or candy each day but doing activities.  This is the same as last year when we wrote about our Activity Advent Calendar.  This last minute idea last year has turned into a wonderful annual event and has created even more excitement for the holidays.  The kids will get their gifts but this ensures that we follow through with some great family activities.  Yesterday we had a games night, today is a wonderful craft, and I think we will go see Santa tomorrow.  I am hoping these colds disappear for the snow tubing, swimming, and Christmas light events we have planned.

We still have not reconnected cable to watch TV shows.  With people feeling under the weather we have watched more shows lately however.  Free online streaming is great but this is also a good time to Rediscover Your Public Library.  We are borrowing a lot of the Christmas specials we want to share with our kids as well as some great books and music.  We have movie night as one of our special activities on the advent calendar.

Another activity we did was put up the Christmas tree.  We gave into peer pressure, and kid pressure, and put up the tree much earlier than we ever had before.  Maybe it is the fact that Christmas trees hit the stores just after Halloween that gets people to put them up so early but we were given a few guilt trips for deciding not to put our tree up until Dec 12.  Tired of hearing reasons why this is far too late we put our tree up last weekend instead.  The kids had a great time with this one though it was like putting up a giant sorting toy in our living room.  It has been so hard to keep the twins off the tree and we end up redecorating it twice a day.  Both Bryce and Jada have their favourite branch and we are always finding dozens of ornaments winding up on these branches.  It was funny the first time when we let the kids decorate first and all the ornaments ended up on 20% of the tree but now it is getting a bit too much.

Besides the colds we are having a lot of fun.  Each year the excitement for Christmas grows and grows and being able to see the holidays through children’s eyes has been really special and has changed our perception, and some of our cynicism, for the event.  The kids tell us that it is the toys that they like best about Christmas and there is nothing we can do to change that, but I know that when they look back at their childhood Christmases that it will be the activities, and the time spent together, that will stand out the most.

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