While we were researching and compiling this year’s holiday gift guide, I talked to a lot of people about their wish lists. “What do you want most this year?” I asked. The kids’ answers varied widely — from microscopes to puppies to cooking supplies for an E-Z Bake oven — but they were, across the board, impressively detailed. The kids have obviously been thinking about this for weeks.
The dads’ responses tended to involve high-tech gadgetry and power tools. One of my friends wants a new guitar. Another has his eye on a sleek cell phone. And a third (who I must admit provided my all-time favorite answer to the question) wants Shakira to help him organize his garage.
The mothers I spoke with had fewer requests at the ready. In fact, they all seemed genuinely startled by the question. “What do I want?” one of them repeated, as if I’d been speaking in another language. “What DO I want?” she said again. “Time,” she finally responded. “Time to spend with my family when I’m not cooking or cleaning or multitasking in some way.”
Good answer. We should all slow down. Especially at this time of the year. We should stop and smell the sugar cookies. We should embrace the thoughts of togetherness, gratitude and tradition that abound. But it’s hard. So many of us are too busy to truly appreciate the season. We bustle from party to party, from mall to mall, all the while ignoring the gentle urgings of our homes and our hearts when they whisper to us: “Stay home.”
Stay home and play a board game with your family. Stay home and bake a pecan pie. Stay home and read a book with your kids. Stay home and organize your family photos. Stay home and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Stay home and play a game of catch in the backyard. Stay home and laugh. Stay home and play. Stay home and rest.
Stay home. Stay home. Stay home.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a holiday season that doesn’t revolve around travel and chaos and near-constant activity. But you have to admit the at-home holiday is a lovely fantasy. Maybe you can make the dream come true on a smaller scale. Turn down a few party invitations. Cut back on travel. Do most of your shopping online (and splurge on gift-wrapping). Do whatever it takes to save one night a week so you can stay home with your family and enjoy one another’s company. Because microscopes are cool and I’d love to have Shakira’s help with my closet, but family and love are the real reasons for the season — and you can’t enjoy them if you’re always on the go.
Stay home and have a wonderful holiday season!
BOXED: We Love Being Parents!
Holiday memories are special, to be sure, but in the life of a parent, special moments come and go every day, all year long. In last month’s issue of Carolina Parent, we asked our readers to tell us about their favorite parenting moments. In on online poll, parents responded to the question: What do you love most about being a parent?
• Watching my child smile and laugh: 31 percent
• Helping my child learn something: 19 percent
• Kisses and hugs and snuggles with my child: 30 percent
• Seeing my child’s face after I’ve been at work or away from home: 20 percent
Walt Evans, a Durham father, shared his favorite parent moment with us and won a $50 gift certificate to Elmo’s Diner (voted Best Non-Chain Family Restaurant in our reader survey). Here’s what Walt said: “One of the things I love most about being a father is when my daughter is belly laughing … like when we’re playing chase, or she’s loving swinging high, or we’re dancing to one of her favorite songs. As a stay-at-home dad, I’m fortunate to share many moments like these with my little girl.”
We welcome your comments, questions and feedback about Carolina Parent and about parenting issues in general. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at (919) 956-2430 or write to us at 5716 Fayetteville Rd., Suite 201, Durham, NC 27713.