Wishing and Hoping

For young people, holidays can be all about getting. Their mantra might be ‘presents, and more presents, please!’ When my son was small this was a source of anxiety for me because I barely had money for a Christmas tree, never mind the gifts that were supposed to go beneath it. When he was a teenager, I experienced a different kind of pressure because some items on his list would be quite pricey. 

Every month I recommend that dads and moms approach their parenting relationships with awareness. Today we can reflect on the work we do in our families and remember the aim is to guide our teenagers to adulthood. Would you like to engage in a little thoughtful consideration about the holiday season? Respond to the questions below and get others in your home to play along.  

What are we celebrating?
This foundational question will make it clearer to you how you want to celebrate. I often hear folks say they are celebrating family and being together. Some focus on a spiritual or religious tradition. There are also those who celebrate the winter solstice or the wrap-up of the calendar. 

What are your favourites? Leave the rest!
I live to see the lights on houses and outdoor trees. Christmas music is also a must-have for me, along with a mother-son ski. I want “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and Michael Buble’s Christmas album. Top it off with a few vacation days from work and I’m in holiday heaven. Make sure you hit some of your non-negotiables – and that you communicate about those expectations as a family – and the holidays will be a hit. 

What do you really want for Christmas?
Did you grow up spending hours pouring over the Sears Christmas Wishbook? I did. That experience toned my ‘wanting’ muscles, and I got practice writing extensive lists of my commercial cravings. I took my son to look at toys for hours in places like Zellers and Superstore when he was little, because it’s something he liked to do and he requested it regularly. You might fear this to be a nightmare scenario where I had to drag him away kicking and screaming when it was time to go, but that never happened. I think it was his version of the Wishbook. 

It’s nice to allow ourselves the space to consider our heart’s desire. How do you know what you really want if you don’t take the time to think about it and explore your options?

What does ‘Future You’ want?
You will be a different person than you are today for the rest of your life. Future You also has hopes and needs, and you are the number one individual positioned to make them happen. Would Future You like to get in on the pandemic gardening you missed this summer? Maybe you could plant those seeds as part of your holiday. Don’t forget to think about the things your Child of The Future might feel grateful for next season or year. 

What do you want for someone else?
This is a tricky question, because it is difficult to win while presenting a loved one with something we want for them, unless it is also something they want 
for themselves. It would be nice to see someone we care about enjoy more health or play or connection or relaxation. Can you help them with that in a way they would appreciate?

What do you want for your community and/or the wider world?
I want all young people to be treated with respect, regarded as fully human, and allowed to vote. I want child poverty to be a thing of the past. I want every kid to be able to easily access sports and recreation. When I get in touch with these deep longings I remember how important it is to work towards these things every day, and I motivate myself as an activist and leader. 

Parents can model the power of intention when we approach holidays with our minds open. Instead of simply performing the usual rituals, take the time to answer the hard questions with honesty and courage.