The title of this post comes from my three-year-old grandson, Nolan. I dropped in at his house next door on my way to work Monday morning. With youthful enthusiasm, he greeted me.
"Mommy'sMum!" he cried. (That's what he and his three brothers call me.) "Know what day it is? It's CHRISTMAS EASE!" His stocky little body was wriggling with anticpation, like a happy little puppy. And I loved the message that came from Father's heart through a little boy's mouth, to mine.
Christmas Ease. I don't think I will ever refer to it as Christmas Eve again. What a wonderful reminder to do what we've all be talking about - taking Christmas a little easier - remembering what it's really for - hanging on to all the glass balls and letting the rubber ones go. "Easing" into Christmas instead of stressing into it.
My family is keeping a notebook this year. We're writing down what we didn't like this year along with ideas as to how to make it a more joyful, and less stressful season for all of us next year. Then in the early fall, we will send out a reminder to everyone of the changes we have agreed on, before we have a chance to slip into old habits. One of things we're going to do is forego our massive annual gift exchange. It was joyous chaos this year, but left many of us with a sense of materialistic emptiness when it was all over. There were 29 people all giving and receiving gifts - 20 adults and 9 children ages 3 months to 9 years. You can just imagine!
Those who do choose to give gifts can still do so, but it will be a quieter exchange, family to family, done more privately, not the wild melee of paper ripping frenzy that went down this year. Incidentally, after it was all over, Elizabeth, who will turn three next month was asked by her mommy what her favourite gift was. Her eyes widened and began to sparkle. Mommy waited to hear if it was the dolly or the battery powered ride-on car, or one of the other toys.
"The chocolate!" she said, surprising everyone. (Thank you "Auntie Omie" - a.k.a. "Belinda" - for the most favoured gift of all! The little bag of Lindor chocolates!)
What we hope to do next year is invite the children to do a Christmas play, perhaps a re-enactment of the Christmas story, and the adults too will be able to share any talents they have - whether writing, singing, dancing, song-writing, story-telling, baking, reading, baby-cuddling, you-name-it. That karaoke machine Abby got for Christmas this year stands to come in really handy. We're already excited about it and there has been some planning for next year already underway.
We know that family traditions are really, really important. They give a sense of grounding and identity to a developing child and build a foundation of memories for the whole family. But they don't have to be the same ones everyone else has. And the ones that are "too much", or that take away from the true meaning of Christmas don't have to be hung on to at all. And we don't have to be restricted to the ones we've always known. We can break out of the old mode and establish some entirely new traditions that just may turn out to be even better than the old.
This year was a good start in the right direction for the Stewart clan. Next year, I hope, will be the most meaningful and stress-free Christmas ever.