Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lessons Learned - Slow but Sure

As I sit here typing this, Princess is next to me on the couch, writing the last of the thank you notes for the abundance of goodness that we've all received this holiday season.

I watch her careful lettering, her thoughtful and cute drawings, and her patient acceptance of this chore as a necessary part of our post-holiday lives. Actually, to her it isn't a chore... she is thoroughly enjoying this whole process. My regret: that I didn't write out her list of presents received more neatly, as she gets stuck when trying to interpret my chicken scratch.

I'm thinking about the lessons I've learned this holiday season... some I seem to keep re-learning, some I probably should have learned a while ago.

1) I do not actually have to do it all... and I certainly don't have to do it all well. We had a perfectly wonderful Christmas, even though I did little else for the dinner than mash some potatoes and warm up a cooked ham, and all the house prep consisted of sweeping the floor and wiping down the bathroom. (this one needs to be re-learned... often)

2) Kids' birthday parties go better when you stick to the 1 guest per year of age rule. Through a complete and total fluke, BigBro won symphony tickets for Sunday afternoon... at the precise time LilBro's birthday party was scheduled. We moved the party time a bit, hoping DH and the older 2 kids wouldn't miss much. With the older 2 away, other friends decided not to send along their older sibs. And so, LilBro's party for about 10-11 kids was suddenly a party of just a few preschoolers. And it went SO well. By far, it was the best birthday party any of my kids has ever had. (this one is a lesson I should have learned a LONG time ago!)

3) I have a very deep need for quiet, for breaks in the action, for downtime. I am not one of those people who happily moves from scheduled-activity to scheduled-activity. When I don't get the downtime I need, I lose the ability to be reasonable. We took a break from Dec 30 through Jan 2, canceling all activities and plans other than family time and it has made a HUGE difference in my ability to jump back into it all again. (again, I need to keep re-learning this one!)

4) Along with #3, I need to remember that skipping on prayer, exercise and some small amount of quiet time each day is a recipe for disaster. (if only I didn't have to keep re-learning this one).

5) Keeping the clutter to a minimum helps me (and the kids) manage the holiday excess so much better. (Actually, I know this one... and am pretty good at reminding everyone about it as we go along).

6) When all is said and done, what matters most (and what the kids remember most) are the times we spend together... reading, playing games, curling up to watch a movie together, and just spending time as a family, both our small, nuclear family and with extended family. (Probably the best lesson of this holiday season... we completely skipped out on 2 parties because they cut into family time - and I don't regret that decision at all).

How about you? Care to share any lessons you learned this holiday season?

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