Sunday, December 29, 2013

#Gratitude365 Day 7

#Gratitude365 Christmas Day

Last year I had a notion to have the kids stop and take turns opening gifts one at a time. I relished in how much more enjoyable it was for us as parents to be able to savor how each child eagerly unwrapped and anticipated each gift, giving mindful patience and thanks for each item. I took pictures of them opening each one. While I enjoyed looking back at those photos, I realized I wanted to be just present to it all - so I didn't worry about capturing it on camera - even though that is part of the reason I always make sure that the kids have new Christmas jammies to wear to bed the night before. First, I'm amazed that the kids knew what to expect with waiting to watch each person open their gift and not just tear into their gifts as they had in the years prior to last year. So, I think that added to their enjoyment. Second, the kids each had opened maybe 2 gifts before they got excited to watch Mom & Dad open our gifts! Seriously? How cute is that? They really didn't rush us, we sat on the couch and one gift happened to be pulled out that was for "Dad" so they sought out the others under the tree that were for us. I just marveled at how it is possible to enjoy Christmas morning more and more with each passing year. Especially because there were a couple of Christmases where we had that "letdown" feeling where the kids didn't seem to fully grasp how fortunate they were to receive the gifts and would make comments not appreciating an item. Maybe we've tuned in better to figuring out what they want, maybe the waiting to watch each item be opened helps them appreciate, or maybe they're just older so they just get it. Either way I am grateful to witness my children show gratitude and joy for their splendid Christmas.

We spent some time at Thanksgiving imparting knowledge to the kids how some other families might not have "enough" to eat on Thanksgiving or any other day of the year and this served as a reminder of my own childhood where my family did receive holiday packaged meals from charity because we did not have enough. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she got the sense her children were beginning to display a sense of entitlement and I have to say that sounded familiar to me.... and while I'm grateful that my kids don't know the feeling of hunger, the embarrassment of eating at a soup kitchen or waiting for their parents to come home from a food pantry, I want them to know that these things exist, to know that it is important to be grateful for something as simple as a holiday meal, rather than complaining about which foods they don't like.

My husband cooked Christmas dinner and it was a simpler version of the Thanksgiving feast Amberly and I prepared, allowing for more time to play. And, play we did! Building Lego sets and setting up marble tracks. For the first time my husband made prime rib and it was amazing!

Also, grateful for a conversation with my father in law who shared a message with me from his mother. The grandparents had visited a couple months ago and we went out to dinner, which can be hit or miss with our kids ; ) My husband's grandmother shared with his father "She really listens to those kids." He exclaimed what a great job he sees we are doing raising these kids without too much help and he knows it's not easy as my husband comes from a family of 3 kids in the same household. It might be the greatest gift to have someone recognize the effort you put forth to fully listen to your kids, letting them know that what they have to say is important enough to ignore what else is going on and provide them the undivided attention they deserve. I think this has just been part of my parenting paradigm all along. I hear a lot of moms express frustration with family members giving them a hard time about their parenting style or choices, so I fully embraced being paid a compliment.