On Being Santa: How Everyone Can Help Make the Holidays Magical
If it hasn't already become readily apparent, the late-year Holiday season is one of my favorite times of year. These can be special days of togetherness and celebration...but they can also take a lot to pull off, no matter how big your family is.
All those holiday gatherings, decorations, fancy meals, and thoughtful gifts don't just appear out of thin air — someone has to conjure them. In fact, a lot of that responsibility to keep alive the magic often falls to women (hey, ladies!). We tend to be in charge — whether by choice or by de facto assignment — of making sure the holidays are special for everyone around us, and this can bring with it a heavy emotional burden. And it's usually not just for your immediate family, either! There's extended family, friends, colleagues, and clients to consider too. It can be a lot to handle, but I have a secret weapon.
My top-secret strategy for handling the holidays is that I involve my children. Not only does this lighten my load, but it helps teach the young ones what it means to "be Santa" each year, and gives them a vital insight into what it takes to make a relationship work. By giving my children the chance to make the holidays happen for themselves and each other, they get to directly participate in and take ownership of their holiday experience. They get to help create magical celebrations with and for the people around them, making decisions and helping to shape our gatherings according to their own creative visions. Everything becomes more personally meaningful as a result.
Every child eventually undergoes the mental shift that comes along with learning where all that holiday magic really comes from. Encouraging my kids' participation early on gave me a way to help them find the magic in creating something incredible for others. Think about it — the holidays are a lot more meaningful and personal when everybody works together to make them happen! By allowing my children to be the stewards of their own holiday experience, I also found a great way to instill in them some of the values I hold most dear: ownership, responsibility, and a sense of pride in the creation of their own meaningful experiences. (I also handily taught them to avoid expecting that things would just appear in front of them because someone — and by "someone," I mean "me" — did all the work behind the scenes.)
One of the best side effects? The kids love it! Instead of being told what to wear and where to stand, the kids and I all pick out our own outfits for our end-of-the-year Holiday Card, and we all work together to select which picture winds up being the finalist. Rather than spend a night at the kitchen table with the stamps and address book, I make sending those holiday cards a family get-together! And you can bet we make a yearly to-do out of trimming the tree, as well. Everything from menus and music to presents and pictures gets input from everyone...and everything's that much more magical as a result.
Family traditions are a wonderful thing — especially the ones that stretch back throughout the years. There's nothing more special than a sacred custom that's been kept alive across generations...which is exactly why it's so important to create new ones, too! Every year, the kids and I craft a series of holiday celebrations that truly reflect who we are as individuals. Sometimes these celebrations go on to become beloved family traditions, and sometimes they're one-offs that we'll remember fondly in the years to come. No matter what, the holidays are always a shared creative experience...and in the end, they're much more magical because everyone helped make them so.