O Come O Come Emmanuel. The anticipation on the day before Christmas Eve has always been a immense for me. Growing up, Christmas Eve services were a huge part of our celebration – the choir cantata (which I endured as a small child – don’t tell me it was only 30 minutes long I KNOW it was longer than than and which I loved singing in as I got older), the candlelight service, the new dress and shoes, the telling of the Nativity story and the wide-eyed wonder of searching the skies for the brightest “Jesus” star on the way to Grandma’s house.
I attended a candlelight service last year on Christmas Eve and took Hannah with me. It was nice to revisit that experience from my past – though it has changed – now they use battery operated candles and there is no hot wax dripping through the hand guard because I didn’t leave it alone like Mom told me. The peace and serenity of singing ageless hymns of angels, shepherds and a beautiful baby boy tug at me and I’m hopeless to try to not cry.
But – with this peace and serenity comes EXCITEMENT, RAMBUNCTIOUSNESS, AND CRAZY – especially with children. I am teaching classes yet today and I know that I am going to have to bring my A game to the class. The energy levels are going to H-I-G-H HIGH! So, what’s a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, babysitter, caregiver to do? You have a ton of things you want to get finished, you want peace and serenity and maybe even a few tears, but these children are going WILD! Here are some suggestions:
1. Buy a bag of cotton balls – you can build miniature snow men, glue them on paper for a winter scene, blow them across the dining room table ( or a card table) with straws to play “hockey”, put them on a blanket or sheet and bounce them to music to create a snowfall in the living room.
2. Read a book – seriously, sometimes the wild wackiness comes from the feeling of need for attention. If we, as the adults, stop what we are doing, and focus – seriously focus – on the child for five to ten minutes it can buy us time later.
3. Begin your thank you notes. Write the following on a piece of paper:
Thank you for the ______________________________. I appreciate you thinking of me.
Make copies – have your child decorate with crayons, markers, stickers, glitter – whatever, and sign his/her name. Then all you have to do is fill in the blanks – a good activity when the excitement of Christmas has worn off but they are still home on break.
4. Bake cookies for Santa, clean a carrot for Rudolph, make reindeer food (raw oats and sugar sprinkles).
5. QUIET TIME – Yep Miss Christa’s on her soap box again, but everyone needs to STOP for 3-5 minutes, dim the lights, quiet music playing in the background. Take DEEP breaths and relax.
6. Sing through your chores, teach your children the songs of your youth – be silly – yep even if you have to sing “Batman smells” (UGH I hate that verse). Don’t worry if you aren’t American Idol material. Your child loves to hear you sing.
7. Enlist their help – allow them to help dust, sort silverware, fold napkins, lick envelopes, fluff couch cushions etc. It doesn’t matter if the job really needs to be done or not, but children are naturally inclined to help if it makes them feel important. You will have to let go of PERFECTLY PERFECT tendencies and settle for good enough – but hey – if it buys you sanity it is worth it.
8. BREATHE – through it all just breathe deeply. Soon it will pass and these years of young craziness will pass sooner than you think. Someday you will miss it – seriously – I’m not kidding.