It’s that time of year. Yes, it’s the holidays! Thanksgiving. Black Friday (I’m starting to think that this should be a national holiday). Cyber Monday. Hanukkah. Christmas. Kwanzaa. New Year’s Eve (This should be a holiday too). New Year’s Day. BCS Championship Game Day (OK, I’ve gone too far). All of these events in some form or fashion bring families and friends together – brothers, cousins, parents, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles – all in one place. For my family, Christmas is the holiday of holidays for us! My brothers and I do everything we can to make sure we get everyone together for Christmas. Some years it works out. Some years it doesn’t, but we know what it means to everyone in the family to get together.
My youngest brother and I live in the same town, but my younger brother lives in the great state (and soon to be it’s own country) of Texas. Before we head home, the three of us have multiple phone conversations in which we try to plan our arrivals and departures so that we maximize our time together. We want our families to spend as much time together. Our children are reasonably close in age, so it makes for some good times. We’ll do the fun things – movies, trips to the park, hours of sharing stories about our childhood with our own kids. Probably the best part of the trip is going to the movies with my Dad. My Dad isn’t exactly a movie guy. When I was home over Thanksgiving, I tried to get him to go see the new James Bond movie, Skyfall, with myself and my in-laws. When I asked, he said, ” I only see one movie a year. I’m saving it for Christmas.”
I can’t argue with him. He really only sees about one movie per year – it may be closer to one movie every three years. The last one he remembers seeing in the theater is Avatar – the James Cameron movie that many have equated to the Smurfs on steroids. A number of Thanksgivings ago, he, my brothers, and myself went to see Borat (yes I know what you’re thinking – Borat). I’ve never heard my Dad laugh so hard. He could really relate to the humor of Sasha Baron Cohen – as could the rest of us that night. It was one of those nights where he had his three boys all to himself again – just like when we were kids.
So every Thanksgiving or Christmas, I try to do the same thing with my kids – a trip to the movies. Over the summer it was Madagascar 3. My 4 year old sang “Afro Circus” for about a week after that one. This year it was Wreck-it Ralph. The early 80s video game references in this movie were fantastic. I spent a good bit of the movie explaining who Q-bert was to my 7 year old. I also had to explain what the word “Glitch” meant about three or four times too. Despite missing half of the movie’s dialogue, I really enjoy times like these with my kids. We laugh and talk. We eat popcorn and drink root beer. It’s times like these that get harder and harder to come by. They are moments I treasure. It’s during these times that I realize I’m carrying on the traditions that my family and my wife’s family started many years ago. I hope my kids remember these times and do the same with their kids some day.
So as we draw closer to Christmas, try to find ways to spend time with friends and family. This past Saturday was one of those days. I went shopping with my 7 year old. We were out for about 5 hours. It’s amazing how many little nuggets of information you can learn in 5 hours. She told me about all of her friends and “fr”enemies. We talked about ghosts (she does believe in them, thinks one lives in our house, and thinks they only come back to earth when they have “unfinished business”), soccer, and her sisters. She told me about the little girl who tries to eat her fruit cup and part of her sandwich at lunch everyday because she doesn’t like the school lunch (luckily for the little girl, she is a sharer). We talked about her never-ending want for a kitten (I will write a separate post about this at some point). We bought presents for family and for the Angel Tree children we picked at church. She played with every toy in Target, helped me pick out presents for her mother from me, and downed an ICEE in record time.
Like my Dad, it’s during these times that I try to impart wisdom on my children. I try to save them from the pitfalls I experienced during my childhood (Like breaking a car window with a rock and a slingshot – although I don’t claim that one. I was aiming at the car’s wheel). I’m not overprotective by any means, but I want them to be respectful and make smart decisions. I am a firm believer in teaching my children the differences between making good decisions and bad decisions (like the fact it’s wrong to sneak candy from the candy bucket, eating it in your bedroom, and hiding the wrappers in the back of your closet only to be found by my wife at a later date). I also try to teach them the importance of not sweating the small stuff (apparently the fruit cup is a big point of contention) and choosing their friends wisely. I want my children to do better in life than me. I want them to make a difference. I think it’s important to start teaching/coaching them while they’re young. It’s why it’s important to make time for them. At the end of the day, I asked her about her favorite part of the day, and she said just spending time with you. What else could a Dad ask for? Maybe another day out really soon? We’ll have to play that by ear. I have some time off at Christmas. However, her older sister is up next. A daddy/daughter date with my newly minted 9 year old “tom-boy” fashionista who came home today from a friend’s house with pink hair and went to the Nutcracker in a skirt and silvery/sparkly shoes. Her mother and I did not approve, but we didn’t have time to do battle. She’s definitely an individual, much like her Dad.
Wish me luck! Happy Holidays!