What memories are you making this year? Memories are made from the behaviors, attitudes and words you share during special times like the Holiday season. You will make memories whether you like it or not. The power of tradition. It's not a personality thing. It's not a religious thing. It's a principle of life thing. Every family gathers stories over the years of everything from the naughty to the nice. These become the memories that go with your children into adult life; they influence the traditions your kids will create in their families. My goal is to inspire you as a parent to be INTENTIONAL in every aspect of parenting. Creating memories is no exception.
Your greatest enemy during this season is stress. Nothing brings out stress like the holidays. There are countless demands on your time, finances, emotions and relationships. The kids are out of school which only adds to the excitement and the mess. Family is coming to town, or possibly worse, family lives in town! Work demands only seem to grow as everyone realizes these are the last few weeks of the year. The danger in all this stress is the attitude that comes out, affecting every memory you are making. The result is not the collage of wonderful memories you had hoped for, instead you end up with memories of tension, impatience, disappointment and even hurtful experiences that take years to overcome.
Put yourself in your kids' shoes. What do they see in you? Do they see a mom that is enjoying family time or a mom that is nearing the end of her rope? Do they see a dad who is engaged or do they see a dad who is distracted, distant and cold? What is the atmosphere in your home? Here are a few reminders to help you create the kind of memories you want your kids to remember and repeat the rest of their lives.
1. Slow down. This is a time for relational connection, and we just can't do that when the pace is too high. Slow down and enjoy one another, even if those cookies don't get decorated or that project at work has to go on hold for a few days.
2. Laugh. Laughter is the glue of good memories. I want my kids to remember laughing a LOT in our home. If you have small kids, play, wrestle, tickle and tell jokes. If your kids are older, watch a classic Christmas comedy like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or Elf. If something goes wrong, laugh it off. Too many memories are trashed because someone is crying over a cake that has fallen or a gift that didn't make it in time. Take a deep breath and remember that the people around you matter more than the stuff.
3. Say, "Thank You." It's a natural response to thank someone for a gift when given; however, try to remember to take the extra step. Say, "thank you" for things unrelated to the gifts under the tree. Husbands, tell your wife you are thankful for her constant work to keep you, your kids and your home working smoothly. Wives, thank your husband for his hard work to provide for your family. Thank your children for the specific ways they bring life to your family. Be thankful! When you are thankful, you ensure everyone knows they mean more to you than the gift you will forget about in six months. In my experience, the phrase, "thank you" has far more power than even the phrase, "I love you."
4. Enjoy God's blessings. The official word here is "celebrate;" however, our society has skewed the meaning of this word from the good and biblical perspective I'm referring to. Lots of people will celebrate without giving God a single thought; however, we should celebrate by taking time to enjoy God's blessings. We should enjoy good food, drink and the gifts shared among loved ones as a means of recognizing God's blessings in our lives. "Saying grace" is more than a pre-meal tradition - it should be the heartfelt recognition that God has blessed us by His grace. Enjoying the new gadget you had on your Christmas list reminds us that all good things come from God for us to enjoy; What a gracious God we serve! Recognizing God's blessing also brings appropriate moderation to our celebration to keep us from the sins of gluttony, drunkenness or materialism.
5. Focus on Jesus. Unapologetically Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Don't miss the opportunity to elevate the proper focus of this time of year. Make it clear in your home that NOTHING trumps Jesus as the focus of the Christmas season. Here are some practical ways to focus on Jesus...
- Attend a church service on Christmas Eve and actively include the family of God in your Christmas plans (I recommend Highpoint Church for those in the Memphis area).
- Include giving to the less fortunate as a family to show God's love to all people.
- Read the Christmas story directly from the Bible (I recommend reading Luke 2:1-20).
- Take Communion (Lord's Supper) in your home with your family. This is the way Jesus told us to remember Him.
I truly hope you create some wonderful memories this Christmas. I would love to hear some of your Christmas memories from your childhood, and the ones you are making in your family!