We tried something new this year - like the Neiman Marcus Adolphus Children's Parade, benefiting the Children's Medical Center. When we found a corner to watch the spectacle from, we realized we had actually missed all the floats.
In between Dallas skyscrapers, we chased Santa's shadow until we finally met face to face -from the best view...
While watching the kids take in the sights, I asked myself if this experience was worth it [running around the house to get ready, driving to downtown and avoiding a car accident before parking... spilling my coffee all over the stroller and my jeans while running to catch glimpses of giant balloon characters in the sky?]
If my Dad could see me now, he'd shake his head and say I'm crazy for even stepping outside of my house on this cold winter day. He'd say that the kids should be at home, and that I'm taking risks with their safety... what if they catch a cold? Or worse, get lost? Hearing his voice in my head makes me smile, because I know he loves us all too much.
I came to the conclusion that when we do things unexpected of us - and immerse ourselves inside a bigger picture - we are inevitably creating opportunities for our children to experience great things.
And it is in their wonder, that we, as parents, get to see the world, and grow as a family.
Bring their wonder to life, and create a family tradition that is unexpected. Now more than ever, is the time to teach our little ones about the holidays and how they can be a part of something bigger than the picture we have painted for them.
Ask family members to make a donation to a local charity in your family's name. Pick a charity that focuses on issues you care about as a family. What you are passionate about - chances are loved ones will be too. Offer family and friends the opportunity to experience the joy of giving by letting them know in advance or sending them info in your annual greeting sentiment. Enlist the help of Charity Navigator to learn about individual programs in the US.
Exchange the gift-exchange mentality. Instead of buying presents for each other, gather resources and adopt a family less fortunate. There are several local programs that start pairing families together for the holiday season right after Thanksgiving.
Buy two. While shopping for your little ones, consider buying two sets. When you know how much your daughter would love a new tutu - the probability that another two-year old would love one - is certain. Before you get home from the store, drop off your item at a local participating business, school or church.
Give handmade. I get mushy when I receive something handmade. Whether a card or a piece of jewelry, the time a friend spends crafting with me in mind, is priceless. Give a piece of yourself and creativity by tackling that project you've left behind months/years ago and make some thing special for someone on your list. Recycle a wool sweater into a purse. Reupholster a container with beautiful fabric as a table top piece or jewelery box. Knit booties for a baby...or a pet animal for a toddler using fleece [Aaron can help you with these]- the ideas are endless.
Buy handmade. If you don't have the time or the desire to sit still to create something unique, consider buying from local artists who do. Many online stores support the time honored tradition of handmade and have made it easy for you to shop and support the movement. Try Etsy.com or the fair trade market, where you are literally helping to alleviate poverty and working conditions in global countries. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving...
Suggestions: Original Good, Global Exchange Store, Handmade Expressions
If you have young children, this is the perfect time to discuss family celebrations and traditions for the future years. Consider integrating one or more of these ideas - or better yet, come up with your own on how your family can embrace the holiday season together.