When the holiday season ends and January rolls around, this month in Minnesota can elicit disparate emotions like none other. Some of these feelings might be as warm and comforting as a cup of egg nog; and some may border on the … well, the funky. Parents perform like Olympic athletes during the holidays, yet once January hits and the “race” is over, some of us may sit on the couch and wonder—now what?
And it’s not just parents feeling the effects; kids do, too. For them, the anticipation is over and gifts have been opened; it’s cold outside; and worse yet, school is about to commence.
It’s time to be proactive in December. Consider some of these preemptive tips, with hopes that when January hits, the doldrums are just a bit less than usual.
Mothers, especially, can be unnecessarily hard on themselves. Maybe it’s because many focus on what they should have done—or should have done better—rather than just enjoying the season of giving and receiving.
Relax! Cherish the holiday and let the ‘not-so-comforting’ visions melt away. For example, why did our family-decorated gingerbread house look like something out of a Tim Burton film? Not sure. Did the snowman, built during a snowstorm, look like the perfect rendition of Frosty? Not by a long shot—but my eight year-old son and his cousins were proud of that snowman, replete with antlers and a grimace, no less. The whole family was involved in the creation, which is a gift in itself.
The answer to re-training your holiday ideals is above. Do you see it? Our children answer it for us. My son wasn’t preoccupied with having the perfect snowman, or with having a cookie-cutter gingerbread house. Nor should we. Shift your mindset a bit … flex-vision if you will. The funk we sometimes feel in January can be partly due to those ideals we still hold about the having perfect holiday season. I say, plug in A Christmas Story and watch the Bumpus hounds annihilate the Christmas turkey. That will get your head in gear.
My son talks excitedly about his presents, time with his cousins, and of course, his horned snowman. Hold onto memories like these—they are warm and comforting if you just look closely enough.
The daunting task of putting away the holiday decorations is enough to make any parent and child feel the funk. This does not need to be a sad and painful task for all involved. How about throwing an “Un-Decorating” party? Try to make it fun for yourself and your kids. My son used to hide in his room when this task was set before us. He didn’t want to see his favorite ornament stashed away, or all of the Santa figurines boxed up for another year. Once we made a party out of it, however, it helped him understand that while the holiday season was over, he didn’t have to be sad about it.
Set a date to un-decorate, and get everyone involved. Make sure your plastic bins and containers are out and ready to be filled up. Extra bubble wrap and tissue paper should be laid out. My son enjoys wrapping up his ornaments and putting them in his “special” bin where they will await him next Christmas. After everything is secured, enjoy some food, music, and games.
No, not the Grinch: “green” living—an important lesson for our kids to practice. The holidays abound with learning opportunities related to recycling. Trying to keep a little “green” in mind will help you feel responsible and organized at the same time.
Stacking the holiday boxes carefully will help them retain their shape when they are in storage. My son and I like to keep using bows until they literally fall apart. Once they begin to lose their shape, combine them with new and smaller bows to make an arrangement for next year. Once they are too far-gone, recycle them—they are paper, after all.
Don’t forget all those holiday cards that have stacked up, either. Most can be used in scrapbooks or made into nametags for gifts or even a paper ornament come next December. Our favorite is laminating a captivating image. Then we punch a hole in the corner, and add a colorful ribbon to hang it on the tree.
While it can be hard to grasp in the midst of cold, short days and long, dark nights, January heralds a reason to celebrate. For parents, it can be looked upon as the beginning of a new year, full of possibilities. For children, it’s the anticipation of baseball, bike riding, and the wonderful gifts that the changing seasons offer them. So get into that mindset in December. Before you know it, the New Year will be here!