Now that our kids have all left home, it’s been intriguing to me to listen to what they remember about our family life.
“Remember when…” one of them begins and the hoots of laughter start. “Remember when Dad would take us up on the roof?” (Disclaimer required: it was a one-story rambler.) “Remember when we slept in forts we made under the Christmas tree for Christmas Eve?” (I have no recollection of this, but my kids are adamant they did.) “Remember when you yelled at all my friends, Mom?” (To which I calmly reply, “As I recall, you and your college friends, home on Thanksgiving break, were sledding down the hill in our backyard on air mattresses, yelling and screaming, in your boxers, at 2am!” Enough said.)
What amazes me is that most of the things they remember with glee are not the “memorable moments” I tried so hard to create (manufacture?) for the holidays. The dozens of cookies I baked. The hard-won victory of finding the perfect toy for each child. Not even the flaming plum pudding for Christmas Day dinner (can you believe it?).
Instead, they are the simple times that just happened because we were present to one another. There was space enough just to be and in that being, memories were made.
One of our fondest Advent memories is reading to the kids, freshly bathed and in their jammies, by the lights of the Christmas tree. It was simple. We had time just to be.
This Advent, as busy as the holidays are, I pray you allow enough space in your schedule for the spontaneous, the spur of the moment, the zany, the calm. Keep some little pockets of time just for your family to be home together with nothing planned. Memories will be made.
Trust me. Your kids will remember.