One huge myth that parents need to get out of their heads, especially at Christmas, is that special means fancy, expensive, and time consuming. Special can be those things, but it’s more than that. The ingredients in my recipe for special includes, time, love, laughter, and family. You mix those four things together and the results are special with a capital “S”. This can make Christmas K.I.S.S.- Keeping It Simply Special.
Ways We Made Christmas K.I.S.S. :
- We only had a few decorations; many of them made by our children, so on December 1st each child chose one decoration a day to set out where ever they chose, within limits. The kids enjoyed thinking through where they’d put their decoration every day. Then when dad returned home from work they were excited to show him where they placed their decoration that day.
- Trimming the Christmas tree was also a huge family affair. Christmas music would be playing and each child, their own box of ornaments in hand, carefully placed decorations one at a time anywhere they wanted to. It didn’t always make for the most balanced looking decorated tree, but that was okay. The highlight for the evening was all of us sitting around the decorated tree with its sparkling lights and tinsel enjoying hot chocolate and cookies.
- Another fun spur of the moment idea that became a tradition was getting the kids ready for bed then surprising them by going for a ride. We’d all hop in the minivan and drive around looking at the outside decorations. I can still hear the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the back seats as the kids marveled at the homes that were lit up like Christmas trees while trying to choose a favorite.
- One very special event that occurred each December was the date my husband had with each child. He’d take one at a time to their favorite fast food place for dinner, then to the mall to see Santa and hang out amidst the hustle and bustle of shoppers. Sometimes they bought something small but mostly it was just a memorable time with dad.
- Including our kids in making Christmas cookies was important to me. I admit it did tend to get messy and lead to total chaos at times so I didn’t usually have them all in the kitchen at once, so each one chose their favorite Christmas treat and helped me make it. I cherish those memories, like watching my son dig his hands into a huge bowl of peanut ball mixture, and my daughter carefully shaking sprinkles on the dipped pretzels. Then of course the bragging they did about helping was priceless to them.
- Once all the treats were made the kids helped create plates for neighbors that I’d let them deliver. They loved being able to be the giver of the treats they’d helped make.
- Christmas morning only one stocking, handmade by me, was being emptied or one gift opened at a time. When they were young, this helped stretch out the excitement of opening gifts. However, it also taught each child that we were all interested in what each of them received. As they were opening their gift all eyes were on them, they were special.
- Once Christmas was over, our children made a thank you for each gift received from family and friends. If we received a gift for the family, such as a plate of goodies, we’d make one card, but everyone helped create it.
Again, I had no idea how important these special times were until the first Christmas our son was married and living on base when his wife wanted to purchase stockings at the PX he adamantly told her, “You didn’t buy stockings, they needed to be handmade.” So I was asked and honored to make the stockings for their home. Another special moment.
Amidst the Christmas pageants, preparations, parties, presents and overall busyness of the holidays, it’s important to remember none of those things mean anything unless the time is spent to make them special. We need to make family members know how special they are and along the way we should be teaching them how to make those around them feel special as well.
I understand that life is hard and gets complicated, especially for those in the military, as we deal with our individual family situations that’s why keeping it simply special at Christmas is so important. Emphasizing the simple things and the specialness of each person and the time spent together is essential. After all, it is Christmas, and we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus in a manger, surrounded by smelly animals and visited by lowly shepherds. If God kept the birth of his Son simply special shouldn’t we honor Him by doing the same while celebrating that birth?