Christmas brings stress to my world. The materialism, gross display of human behavior on Black Friday, and hours wrapping presents is overwhelming. When you’re parenting teenagers, you’re not only worried about buying your kids presents they’ll like, but also ones that they’ll feel okay about sharing. New underwear and last year’s out-of-date whatever aren’t the things to brag about on Instagram.
These things used to bring a level of dread during the last month of the year. But with two of my kids in college, my perspective has changed a little about the holidays. Even though commercialism and Walmart in December still drives me crazy, here are five things I’ve learned to appreciate about the holidays with teens and college students.
- Christmas really is about being together Once your first child leaves home, something in your family changes forever. Christmas no longer is just a time to buy, buy, buy. It’s a time where everyone being home is simply enough.
- Traditions can start now. You don’t realize until your kids are out of high school that they aren’t always going to be home for the holidays. As they go to college and interact with other people, including potential marriage partners, holidays quickly become markers of their history, identities and roots. Having meaningful traditions are things they yearn for and look forward to coming home to. Even if it’s a movie night, decorating the tree together, or starting a new gift tradition, starting traditions with young adult and teens establishes roots as memories become more important.
- It’s nice buying things they really need. The great thing about poor college students is that they need things for Christmas – gas cards, personal products and other essential items. You aren’t spending money just to buy unnecessary things, and that’s nice.
- Adult-like children have adult-like conversations. Little kids during the holidays are cute, but I value the adult conversations I have with my older teens and college kids.
- I need to have the right perspective. I don’t know how many holidays all of my children will be together because I don’t know where they’ll be after graduation. I’m more willing to let things roll off and not stress me out. I’d rather spend time with my kids than worry about unimportant stresses.
Holidays come and go. As our family is changing, these are things I’m learning are most important.
What about you? What lessons are you learning during the holidays?