It is late in the evening, my daughters are tucked into bed, the house is restored to order and the lights are turned down low, I am weary from the physical act of being in motion all day- spread thin between appointments, a desk buried with work, a home that needs tending and Zoe’s constant need for hands-on mothering. I sit and sigh- and think about treating myself to some hot chocolate, a seasonal treat that starts me thinking about the holiday season approaching, and the family lessons we have learned about slowing down.
Like many special needs moms, my family life centers around home. So much happens here, needs to happen at home that I spend a lot of time contemplating what will make our home life fuller, richer, more satisfying- and then setting about keeping the home traditions enjoyable. Fun Friday at our house means movie night, home made pizza, extra play time and sometimes sleepover arrangements for the girls to sleep together.
We started out years ago trying to accomplish all of the standard holiday traditions- entertaining, events- and some of those holidays went by in a blur. I do remember watching Barney’s Christmas Star DVD over and over again with two sick little girls cuddled beside me, I remember visiting the ER with Zoe in Christmas PJ’s and I remember Olivia being too sick to even play with her presents one year. Plans changed, and then one Thanksgiving we had no plans, no company to entertain, no schedule to keep- and thus was born one of our best holidays ever. The girls and I set the table with special care, while Daddy tended the turkey. I found some Thanksgiving crafts that were easy to adapt ( part parent, part child.. the wrapping of yarn around a printable card stock turkey template to make tabletop turkeys), we made a paper gratitude basket with harvest leaves and took turns writing or telling what we were thankful for), we didn’t really dress- but made a family feast and then settled down for an after dinner rest watching a holidaymovie and sharing cut out cookies and pie in front of the fire.
Christmas soon followed, and my husband and I tried the same easy approach. No more explaining why we needed to eat at a certain time, or the special accommodations- plenty of time to pay attention to the kids individual needs or best of all- rework our schedule if someone wasn’t feeling well or the kids needed a mid-day rest, we spent more time enjoying each other.
For this holiday season, I won’t schedule too much and for days we have a rare special event, I may cancel other appointments or cut back at school . I have begun assembling a holiday theme craft basket with tools to keep it easy and fun.. holiday shaped foam stikers, holiday shaped foam cut outs to decorate and string with yarn for holiday garland, pre-cut colored paper Christmas trees, stockings, holiday cookie cutters- holiday stamps.. The decorations have started already as Zoe keeps asking me ” How many days until Christmas?”. Days are not easy for her to track to begin with , and with the rest of the world jumping the gun ..I think she is afraid we have forgotten about the Christmas tree. So in the spirit of slowing down, yesterday the girls and I set aside some time to make an easy paper chain advent calendar, numbering each link and cutting one off each night- a visual reminder for Zoe , and a fun mini-after dinner tradition.
I will keep the craft basket handy, my holiday book collection nearby, and the Christmas music on. My secret to slowing down are the simple things to enjoy those quiet moments -empty spaces to fill with joy, open opportunities to savor the simple treasures this holiday season.