The holiday season is filled with joy – sharing special moments with family and friends, celebrating the birth of Jesus, a focus on giving, a spirit of happiness and goodwill. Sometimes, though, there are inevitably events in our lives that impact the holiday season. What about when things happen that make Christmas seem less merry?
When our children stop believing in Santa.
A child’s innocent and thrilling belief that Santa will visit him or her is at the very heart of Christmas magic. Nothing can dim the holiday sparkle for Mommy faster than discovering that her little ones no longer believe in Santa. It might sound silly, but it is a tough thing for Moms (and Dads!) the first year it happens. No more leaving cookies & milk. No little notes on Christmas morning from Rudolph. Gone are the exclamations that reindeer hoofs and sleigh bells were definitely heard on the roof. How do you ever get that special holiday magic back?
You make different and new magic for your family! When our children stop believing in Santa is the perfect time to create new traditions and put a fresh spin on old ones. Some things we did that you might consider:
- On Christmas Eve, after Mass, we went to a “fancy” restaurant for dinner, visited family and before going home, drove around to see Christmas lights. The kids played a game to see who could “spy” the most number of holiday houses before we reached home.
- Continue the stocking tradition! Individually wrap everything in the kids’ stockings so it becomes a fun, first thing for them on Christmas morning.
- Wait until the kids have gone to bed to put all of the presents under the tree – they will still be excited the next morning, trust me!
- Create a focus for them on giving to others – both on Christmas day and throughout the holiday season.
- One last thing…don’t be surprised if your children perpetuate the belief in Santa a few years past the time they actually DO! My own two informed me that they kept up the “belief” because they were a tiny bit concerned that they might not get anything! Even when the belief is gone, Santa magic still remains!
When getting a Christmas tree is no longer a family event.
Children become teenagers and guess what? They have other, much more pressing things to do than listen to holiday music, bundle up and trudge around in the cold looking for the perfect Christmas tree. I definitely remember my tears at the empty back seat of the car the first Christmas my husband and I went tree shopping alone! Make it fun and focus on the two of you! Go out to breakfast first or lunch after. Do a little holiday shopping. Choose a new ornament together. Bond together on preventing Treetastrophe! <smiles>
When we can’t be with our families on Christmas.
There are times when families just can’t be together on Christmas. Families are serving our country in the military and are far from home. Financial constraints mean travel just isn’t possible. Work transfers take place close to the holidays. Lots of times, families are apart at Christmas.
- We are fortunate to have so much amazing technology that the old “reach and out touch somebody” allows us to see and talk to loved ones far away – Skype, Facetime and other technological ways give us the chance to share love and smiles!
- Share Christmas day with another family or families in the same situation!
- Send small packages of holiday cheer back and forth with your family during the week before Christmas.
When our children grow up, move away and won’t be home on Christmas.
It happens. It’s tough. It is just how life goes. This will be the first Christmas as a Mom when my son, who recently was married and lives across the country, will not be here on Christmas day. He and my new daughter-in-law will be with her family and arriving to stay with us on December 26. Yes, my world was rocked when I first heard this! But you know, after a deep breath, I realize that the most important thing is that we DO get to see them during the holiday and for that, I am extraordinarily grateful. My golden moment every year is when I’m sitting in my living room, the tree lit, holiday music playing in the background, with my children and husband, laughing and opening gifts. That I’ll have that golden moment is what is meaningful, not the day it takes place.
When someone we love has died.
There is no easy fix or magic dust to sprinkle. The first (and sometimes more) Christmas after a loved one has died can be one of the most challenging times we face. My own wonderful Dad died suddenly at a young age when I was 13. Our entire family will be faced with the “first Christmas” challenge this year, having lost my dear mother-in-law earlier in 2012. How do we get through a holiday when someone we love is no longer with us?
- Accept that it’s okay to feel sad. Sometimes we feel that we need to push sadness and loss away but we don’t. It’s a normal and healthy part of the healing process.
- Keep some holiday traditions that were a memorable part of your loved one, but start new traditions as well.
- Do something totally different! Maybe this is a great time to change things up, take a trip, experience Christmas on the beach or in a different part of the world.
- Know – without a doubt – that your loved will always be with you in spirit. You have the extra joy of knowing someone is looking out for you from above! That knowledge has given me much comfort over the years.
- Embrace a person or family into yours that may be alone or also dealing with a crisis during the holiday. Both my grandparents and my mother¬-in-law were so generous of spirit, inviting others to their homes to join our family holiday. A focus on giving and family honors the memory of our loved one.
- If you truly are struggling, it is most definitely okay – and necessary – to seek professional help.
Change – big and small – will always be a part of life. Eventually, we find ways to redefine and rediscover the merry in Christmas again.