With the last exams frantically finished, and the kids safely off on their summer vacations, you could be forgiven for thinking that the time had come for a bit of relaxation time. After all, for parents and teachers alike, the school term is a demanding time full of requests for help, guidance and improved school food, so surely now you deserve a little time off, right?
Well, hold the phone there for a second, because while it would be very easy to spend the summer with your feet up, in front of ESPN or HBO specials, it’s worth doing just a little forward planning while you have the time. That’s because there’s a storm coming; an ominous, brooding storm that gains in strength with each passing week. It’s a storm that has claimed many before it, will claim many in the future, and may just be the end of you if you’re not ready for it. That storm, is Christmas.
There are presents to buy, themed decorations to co-ordinate, relatives to organize/strategically shun, food to prepare and a whole load of other ‘issues’ just waiting to rear their ugly heads.
So, do yourself a favor and start preparing for the onslaught of festive fever heading this way by getting a few simple things out of the way now.
Make a decision about relatives and stick to it
Whether you’re looking to bag everyone’s favorite aunt (i.e. the one who doesn’t mind spending time with the kids while you consume your own weight in eggnog), or desperately keen to avoid having to put up with your folks bad-mouthing your cooking, chose who you want round for the festive period well in advance. This way you can stake a claim to whoever you’d prefer to have round at yours before any other family members get in there first, or plan the coping strategies required for more ‘difficult’ relatives nice and early.
Start lowering your children’s expectations
Far from being the time of wonder and excitement it appears to a child, Christmas can sometimes seem like one big con to parents. Children’s toys seem to be getting ever-more expensive, and technology more aggressively aimed at youngsters brain-washed into needing the newest gadget that will be obsolete in a few months. Start the process of slyly lowering present expectations by dropping references to the family’s precarious financial situation into everyday conversation and by asking your children which ONE present they’d like this Christmas, particularly if their birthday falls between now and December 25th. You could also attempt to instigate a discussion on the ways the media perpetuates a culture of greed and materialism while 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day, but this may not engender the response you’re after.
Nope, I’m serious. No matter how much tasty Xmas food you make, people always seem to want more. Be it succulent Christmas goose, joints of ham, stuffing, Christmas pudding, apple pie, cookies, chocolate, roasted potatoes and carrots, it seems the family just can’t get enough. If you’re planning on making any of this, it’s worth starting early and maybe getting a few Xmas puddings out of the way early (the booze soaks in better this way as well), or making and freezing some mince pies ready for the big day. If you’re going to buy everything, fair enough. No one’s going to blame you. But it’s still probably a good idea to pick up a few things in advance, as much to spread the cost as anything. Just make sure you hide it somewhere the rest of the family can’t get their hands on it!
Find something to occupy the kids
Yes, as if the prospect of presents, great films on TV, delicious food and spending some quality time with their favorite aunt weren’t enough, kids seem to need you to provide additional entertainment at Christmas time. A great way to provide this while getting them out of the house for a while is to pursued their school to organize educational tours that will take them to another city for a few days, or even, if you’re lucky, the whole holiday! Whether it’s a trip to Washington DC to view the epicenter of US democracy and experience the National Tree Lighting and Pageant Of Peace or participating in the Disney candlelight processional as part of a school choir at Epcot, Orlando there’s plenty of places for kids to enjoy this Christmas. Just make sure you don’t get roped into the organizing!
Lalage is praying someone organizes some educational tours this Christmas to get her kids out of the house for a bit!
Image courtesy: Microsoft