Family Values

I won’t be home for Christmas.

Just putting that in writing makes me weepy.

The reality is that it will be a very quiet Christmas. My husband and I will celebrate, for the first time ever, without our children and our respective extended families. Instead we’ll spend Christmas Eve with good friends and Christmas Day on our own. 

Ultimately one of the silver linings within a potentially blue Christmas is that it’s made me think a lot about my own values and making sure I’m living them.

Family has always been my most important priority. As part of my Christmas reflection this year, I’ve had to think about how I can do more to live that value because while I’m grateful for the increase in quality time my husband and I now have, I so miss the kids.

It just may be that absence does make the heart grow fonder because after talking to our boys, who were surprisingly enthusiastic, all three have agreed that our main Christmas gift to them this year will be a week together with us picking up the tab for the summer cottage rental. 

While five adults and two toddlers under one roof will likely make us crazy at times, it just may be that we’ll be able to capture the same kind of Hallmark memories we enjoyed on our annual family camping and ski trips. 

I’ve also vowed that during some of my upcoming quiet time, I will finally sort through the boxes of family photos sitting on the top shelf of my office closet and make sure the kids get copies.

Christmas, in combination with moving across the country has also made me think a lot about “stuff”.  Nothing like that kind of move to question the sheer volume of one’s material possessions. As I packed I would hold each item and think, “Do I love this enough to haul it a couple of thousand miles? In many cases, the answer was a resounding no and the item would land in the giveaway pile.

As a result, except for the shoes, I now have a lot less stuff in my life. Along the way I’ve learned, the less stuff you have in your life, the easier and better life will be. 

That learning has also entered into my Christmas reflections as I’ve vowed not to impose needless stuff on others. While I’m not quite ready to brave a buy-nothing Christmas, Santa has been even more pragmatic this year. Yup, sweaters, pajamas, socks and underwear all round!  I’ve relented a bit somewhat for the kids in the family but rather than buying one more toy that they don’t really need and might not every play with, I’ve resorted to gift certificates.

As someone who values reading, magazine subscriptions and books have also been high on the list. Wanting to ensure our granddaughters will have the opportunity to pursue a higher education, their main gift will be a continuation of ongoing monthly contributions to their education funds.

For my friends and colleagues here, I will show how I value their friendship by doing what my mother still does -  bake Christmas cookies from our family recipes.

I will also honour my commitment to valuing and respect my own health and that of my husband by continuing to eat healthy, with some indulgences of course. We will also make sure we get back to exercising more regularly.

While it will be a different Christmas for sure, I must admit there’s a tiny part of me that won’t miss the stress created by the hustle and bustle. In fact I already feel calmer because all the gifts have been bought, wrapped and shipped.

Mostly though I’ll miss the magic blanket of warmth and nostalgia that Christmas wraps wound us. I’ll especially miss the best gift around any tree – a family wrapped up in each other.


Posted on 12-13-07

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