The holiday season is always a time of mixed emotions for me. It is exhilarating to watch the excitement build in my children as we slowly march forward to the morning after Santa’s arrival. It’s exhausting to put all of the time, effort (and money) into the creation of one spectacular day. It’s a time of reflection as I remember those who aren’t here to share in these special moments. As I continue my steady journey toward the big 4-0, I spend a lot of time pondering the moments in my life. With the highs and lows associated with this season, I try to reflect on what I aim for these traditions to mean to my children. After all, they are my driving force and reason for existing. There is something about this time of year that can bring my own childhood back to me in waves of unexpected emotions. The smell of vanilla candles, powered sugar all over me from a fresh batch of chocolate crinkles cookies and hearing those familiar holiday tunes. These and other reminders smash through my adult senses and bring me back to a time when life was simple and full of wonderment. As my children seemingly grow before my eyes and we get caught in the necessities of getting through each day, these moments make me stop and wonder what they will look back on nostalgically one day. I hope they get together and laugh at the fact that the one and only present they got to open on Christmas Eve was always pajamas. I hope that the endless baking, followed by decorating stocking shaped cookies with pink frosting (because I can never get it red enough), followed by the torture of putting them into the freezer until Christmas brings a smile to their faces. I hope they fondly remember how I made them help me put up the Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving now matter how stuffed with turkey they felt. To me, this is what life is all about. Creating those happy pockets in time that stay with you no matter how rough life gets. Traditions don’t have to be extravagant or passed down from generation to generation. They just have to be meaningful times and rituals done no matter what with those who mean the most to you. If you haven’t begun to make those precious moments in time, do it this year. Choose one of my ideas or make one of your own — just don’t delay — life is happening all around us. Breakfast My family is a group of breakfast eaters, however, we don’t love waiting around for food after an exciting morning of gift opening. For the last few years I have made up oven French toast on Christmas Eve. As soon as the kids wake up, I rush into the kitchen and pop it in before the present frenzy. By the time they are ready to take a break from their new playthings, it is ready to come out of the oven. I rarely make this any other time of year, so it is a special treat for all. Ambience My kids and I all spend Thanksgiving evening putting up all of our holiday décor. It is so fun to look back on the ornaments they’ve accumulated over the years and the crafts they have made. Our tree is a testament to their lives — no matchy-matchy fanciness here, our tree is mostly made up of things they created or ornaments reflecting a time in their lives. The four of us always take the tree down on New Year’s Day. This, of course, is much less exciting than putting it up, but a necessary tradition nonetheless. Togetherness One of the traditions that I have struggled and fought to keep going is staying at home on Christmas Day. Our lives are so fast paced that I want one day a year where I can have all of my children under one roof and keep them selfishly to myself. We eat casually throughout the day and mostly stay in our pajamas while they try out all of their new items. I know one day before I know it they will have their own families and responsibilities, so each season I know I am another year closer to this tradition coming to an end. My hope is that you, too, focus on the amazement and excitement of this season. I hope you get to spend time with those you love the most. I want you to enjoy your time together and create memories that you will all look back at with happiness.
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.