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Today's Family Magazine

Take a cue from your younger self and enjoy each holiday moment

Nov 21, 2016 01:11PM ● By Today's Family
By Stacy Turner

My daughter downloaded a countdown app to keep track of the days until Christmas, New Years, and her birthday in early January.  Each time she logs in, she announces the dwindling number of days until Christmas, unknowingly ratcheting up my stress level as I tabulate the still undone to-dos on my many holiday checklists.  While she’s joyfully anticipating the most wonderful time of the year, I’m anxiously searching for more hours in the day to accomplish all that the coming holidays will demand of me.  But it wasn’t always this way.  As a child, December was one of my favorite times of the year.  Instead of checklists of gifts to buy and cards to send and chores to complete, I enjoyed the season, moment by moment.

Usually, the month brought lots of snow for sledding or building snowmen.  As a kid, I didn’t worry about driving on slippery roads, or freezing pipes or power outages.  After summer break, December was the most wonderful time of the year.  It brought Santa, with his reindeer and sleigh full of toys, and stockings full of fun toys and goodies.  Christmas cookies, candy canes and hot cocoa were available in large quantities. And if that wasn’t enough to melt even the grinchiest heart, December also brought Christmas break. Before Christmas, there were the holiday Rudolph, Santa, and Grinch classic kids movies.  After Christmas, when the packages had all been opened and the relatives returned home, there was still so much left to do, and we didn’t want to waste a single minute.  We’d wake up early to make the most of our time off school.

It helped to be one of six kids, since there were more new toys to try out after Santa had gone.  Also, there were snow forts to build and defend from marauding armies of neighborhood kids.  For a treat, we’d make snow cream out of fresh, fluffy snow, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. The sledding hill beckoned; when we felt especially daring, we’d hit Dead Man’s Hill, too.  If the soggy backyard froze well enough, we shoveled the neighborhood ice rink for impromptu ice dancing or hockey matches.  During the rare days when it was too cold to go outside, we’d build blanket forts in the living room or have board game tournaments. Long before American Girl or Bratz dolls, we built Barbie town, complete with homes, restaurants, offices, and a pool, nestled among the shelves in the basement.  We even added a Barbie-sized optometrist’s office with hand-made eye chart, perfect for kids like me who thought they were born wearing glasses.

When Barbie town lost its appeal, we’d put out the record player, strap on our roller skates, and the basement would become a small-scale roller rink.  Long before iTunes, our musical selection was somewhat limited -- we played the heck out of the red vinyl “Let’s all Sing with the Chipmunks” album, as well as timeless hits from the Bay City Rollers.  We took turns flipping the lights on and off to get an imitation strobe-light effect until mom made us “knock that off!”  We’d try skating with the lights off until someone plowed into a sibling or a wall.  Ahh, good times. 

By the time school started back up, we’d be sick of each other’s company and ready to head back.  I can only imagine how pleased my mom was to send us all trudging off to the bus stop that first day back.  That was probably her favorite Christmas gift, even though it arrived long after the holidays.

This year, when my daughter joyfully shares her countdown until Christmas, I plan to take a cue from my younger self and enjoy each moment of the holiday season.  So while my adult self tackles the added holiday responsibilities, my inner child will make time each week to enjoy some of that forgotten holiday magic.