Christmas is one of the unique times in the calendar for many people. The dynamic we all face is how do we soak it up before it’s over. Christmas 2020 started for a few people about three3 weeks ago as we all have observed decorations going up earlier, and to me, I’m glad. It’s been a way to get our minds off the stir crazy, disrupted rhythms, frustrating losses, and overwhelming reality that 2020 is ending in an unanswered tension. But do we want that tension under the tree?
May I pose three ideas that I’m pondering that may help your family as well?
1- A new outlook. For me, I'm ready for 2021. I’ve never been someone who has pushed towards the next year as time is precious, and I do not want time to move faster than it needs to. But this year, I want my outlook to be less weary and more wanting, but wanting health. Health for my time, my body, my mind, and my soul. A new outlook for me is I will not be distracted by uncontrollable frustrations.
2--A new tradition. My sons are going to be out of the house in the next 14 months. That seems late to start a new family tradition, right? Well, maybe, and maybe not. A new tradition this year will be created, and for many of you, take ahold of this season and start something new with your kids. A new way to give to others? A new habit during the holiday break? A new way to realize what matters most. For some of us, a new tradition could be doing one less thing and being ok with the space to be still.
3--Put the phone down. We’ve all been overwhelmed with screen time. Let's pause. Let's take a break. Let’s model for ourselves and our kids that physical presence is worth the battle for time. What if we left our phones on Do Not Disturb to take the necessary pictures but leave the notifications for another day, or even week. If the whole family can put the phone down simultaneously, imagine the relational time you can gain by being present and conversational?!
Look, December 2020 is a particular time, but may your month be full of the healthy elements that make your season merry and bright!
Thankfulness- More Than Once A Year
28 years ago November 1992 a Thanksgiving Dinner was being held at a relative's house. Not only was this a big event for several generations there was also going to be a professional photographer available for all the attending families to have seasonal photos taken. You know the kind that brought their own lights and silver shade so you knew they were professional. So naturally, my mother emphatically reminded us that we’ll look our best and get fresh haircuts. So what did I do to help my single mom out not worry about paying for a 12-year-old’s hair cut? I naturally decided to cut my own hair. Well, the picture shows you how bad it was and the professional photographer did a great job only doing a side profile of our family.
The challenge- is Thanksgiving really worth celebration or is being thankful a habit worth forming?
Regardless of your view of Thanksgiving from a historical or cultural perspective, I think the bigger conversation for our children and our families is how can we model being thankful? We remind our children it is polite to say thank you when they are young but do we pause and remind ourselves to share what we are thankful for?
I randomly told one of my sons when they were in preschool that I was thankful for coffee. He asked, “how do you get the coffee?” I told him that I buy it. He then asked “how does it get into the store?” and I shared that people who work in the store put it there. He then asked, “How do they get it?”....well you see where this went.
After every response, he kept asking for the bigger story.
So on this walk we had, I decided to not just share with him that I was thankful for coffee but thankful for store workers, for delivery truck drivers, for people who packaged the coffee, roasted the coffee, and farmed the coffee.
What if this month, you daily just paused and shared one thing you are thankful for? What if you started a family text thread declaring daily something you are thankful for when it happens?
Could you invite your children, regardless of age, to verbalize what they are thankful for and why?
Maybe November 2020 will be memorable for your family 28 years from now because of a life trajectory forming habit you started.
Worry and Parenting
Worry by definition is
- feel or cause to feel anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems
Worry can seems synonyms with parenting. Worry is not how we’d define parenting but there is an influence worry has when we are anxious or troubled. We love our children and we also want to know they are safe, loved, secure and cared for.
However, Even as I look back over the past 14 days here are words I would used to describe life and parenting my teen sons-- challenges, unknowns, concerns, agitation over violence, lack of empathy, pain, frustration and joy. Those emotions I have felt or fixated on definately have affected how I have made decisions and how I parented. I personally do not worry to guide or be my base for how I live or parent as I do want to model for my sons how to navigate a world that will constantly have problems in a way that healthy habits and life patterns are what prevails.
When we are consumed by thoughts of worry or anxiousness we often see life through the lens of what worries us or causes anxiousness. What we think on will consume our thoughts and what we think on will affect how we act.
I want to share this article that I found and offers a healthy practical idea when worry is consuming how we do not have to be consumed.
If you don’t want to take time to read the article here is the one line that can sum up
'...our minds are way more powerful than we could ever understand. The direction we point our thoughts directly determines the direction of our lives.’