Christmas is a great family time.
We can spend time together baking, having wonderful family meals, watching videos, playing games and heading out to local venues. Among others, the Vancouver Aquarium, Science World and Capilano Suspension Bridge may be on the list of planned activities.
So why is it that it seems none of these activities have happened in your family? Well, just look at your calendar. When you factor in the parties, receptions and events, do you find that, in fact, babysitters are seeing more of your kids than you are?
Then remember a year when we had a number of snowstorms. What happened? We were stuck at home as the snow piled up and discovered - or rediscovered - the joys of just being with the family.
Many parents told me that soon the computers were shut down and the board games came out from the back of the closet.
It became an old-fashioned holiday; playing games, eating popcorn and maybe even singing some Christmas carols. The parents watched their kids' favourite holiday programs with them and the kids watched some of the traditional favourites of their folks.
And at the time they said, "This is good. I like this."
The kids were calm and happy. Adults were rested and calm rather than feeling the typical anxiety so often experienced at this time of year. There was laughter in the home from family members of all ages. While you are staring at your calendar and wondering if you can possibly find babysitters for all the usual parties, think about your family. Do you want to continue on the merry-go-round of partying, particularly the parties that are more compulsory than chosen?
Revisit your list. And make choices.
Look at the list of things you hope to experience with your kids and spouse.
Do you really want to get gussied up, leave the kids and head out two or three nights a week for the rest of the month?
Which parties really matter to you? Which parties would you secretly wish could be cancelled? You can say no. You can stay home. You can enjoy family time.
Sit down with the kids and discover what they want to do. You aren't limited to being at home (assuming the weather co-operates this year). Do they want to head out and look at lights? What about some of the traditional displays such as Park & Tilford Gardens, Van Dusen or Stanley Park?
Check the newspaper for the great neighbourhood light displays. What about the Trinity Street multi-block competition for light displays in Vancouver?
This is also an opportunity to spend time with neighbours by suggesting a simple get-together with all the family members.
Once you start thinking about what to do, it will be a terrific holiday.
Choose to do what you and your family want to do. Make time for each other. Relax and enjoy.
. Kathy Lynn is a professional speaker, broadcaster, columnist and author of Who's In Charge Anyway? How Parents Can Teach Children to Do the Right Thing. For information, go to her website at ParentingToday.ca.