The play on words between ‘presents’ and ‘presence’ is often too tempting for many vicars to avoid when planning their Christmas Day sermons.
With no apologies, I’m going to plagiarise that cliché (if such a thing is possible) and apply it to parenting for a brief post-festive pause for thought.
However much we may plan ahead for Christmas, it’s probably fair to say that most of the time spent thinking and doing in preparation for Christmas is centred around trying to buy presents for our family and friends.
Once the presents are bought and the plans of where you need/want to be on particular days are sorted, the planning of how you’re going to actually spend your time is likely to be well down the pecking order.
But what makes the biggest difference to our kids?
Sure, the people we’re with for Christmas will matter, and what they unwrap on The Big Day will hopefully bring a little happiness.
But if we want to make a lasting difference for them then we’ll focus on creating memories. We’ll play games that end in side-splitting laughter, we’ll have the time of our lives racing around the park (and probably get drenched on the way home!), we’ll read endless bedtime stories until the story-teller’s voice or eyelids give up, or we’ll sit and talk about the latest animated blockbuster that we’ve just enjoyed together. Or maybe – as I’ve recently seen posted by a friend on Facebook – we’ll fall asleep cuddled up together on the sofa.
I’ve talked in a previous post about allowing our kids to take the lead in setting the agenda and how/when we play together. Perhaps there is no greater opportunity than the Christmas holidays to allow your kids to set the tone and take a new approach to how you spend your time together.
Please don’t read this post as a guilt trip if you’re feeling like you’ve not been very ‘present’ in creating memories with your kids during the past few days (heck, if an afternoon snooze to sleep off a lunchtime tipple is criminal then I’d be incarcerated every Christmas!). But with whatever holiday time you’ve got left this festive period, it’s never too late to do some more fun/silly/crazy/memorable things that will enrich your child’s life and enhance your relationship with them.
You may even feel prompted to make a New Year’s resolution to give your kids more ‘presence’ in 2013. But if you do, please make sure it’s one you at least try to keep!