A few years ago, amongst the piles of presents and wrapping paper that scattered the floor, my then 3-year-old sat down on a newly opened camp chair and declared she had had enough.
It was Christmas morning and, despite having still more presents to open, she was thoroughly done.
Imagine that. A kid on Christmas, sick of opening presents.
It certainly doesn’t fit with the image of a child on Christmas that I have in my head.
But when I thought about it, about what had led her to this moment, I finally understood.
I’m so grateful for that moment of realization and for the change it has brought to our Christmases since then.
We are often so excited for our children to experience things that we think they will enjoy, that we end up ruining it. We rush them.
‘Look at this!’
‘Open this now!’
‘You can play with that later, finish opening the rest of your presents first.’
‘Ooh look at this big one, there might be something even better in here!’
What are we doing?
We hurry our children through things, wanting them to experience more. But I think we need to consider what ‘more’ really means.
Is more always wanting bigger and better?
Is more needing to do it all and see it all?
Is more being perpetually busy?
I’d hazard a guess that these are not the values that most people want their children to inherit. In fact, the things we admire most about children are often the opposite.
We love that they live in the moment, that they appreciate the little things, that they truly know what it means to be present. But instead of nurturing those traits, we shut them down.
We want to get our money’s worth and make the most of our time. We rush them from thing to thing, missing the fact that they are already enjoying themselves! It doesn’t matter if it’s a trip to the zoo, a fete, opening presents on Christmas day or just day to day life. We are constantly pressing them to move onto the next thing, wanting to give them the very best.
But time or money is not better spent the more you see and do. If you’re genuinely enjoying the present moment, right where you are, then your time cannot possibly be wasted.
True Christmas joy is found in the present. And not the one wrapped under the tree.
That Christmas night, when I tucked my 3-year-old into bed, she said to me, “I hope Santa doesn’t come again tonight. We have enough presents.”
Her message could not have been clearer.
The Christmas season now for us is about slowing down and appreciating the present moment.
Everyone opens their gifts at their own pace. If that means stopping to play with something for an hour before moving on to the next thing, then that’s ok!
We don’t feel the need to do it all when it comes to Christmas events and activities. We’d rather fully enjoy a few things than rush through many things.
By doing less, we truly experience more.
Meet Sara of Happiness is Here. She loves photography, chocolate, Harry Potter, spending time in nature, life learning, and being a mum to her four beautiful girls. She and her family enjoy an unschooling lifestyle in Australia. She holds a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology but boasts that being a mother to her girls (and helping them learn about the world) is by far her greatest achievement and joy.