Tis the season to be family together
By Focus on the Family
The pre-Christmas rush is now officially in full swing, but I wonder how many of us, amidst all of the holiday planning, present-buying and end-of-year social functions have stopped to think about what time we are going to devote to our families over the fast approaching Christmas holiday period?
Like most people I always used to assume that quality time with family would magically materialize along with the annual Christmas holiday break, but now I realize that, like most things in life, it is actually something that needs to be thought about and planned for.
This is hardly surprising when you consider the demanding pace of modern living, which also includes holiday breaks, a time that can easily and quickly become consumed by a special festive busyness all of their own.
The need to schedule in quality time with family shouldn't really be seen as anything that revolutionary either. Modern marriage courses and books now regularly advise couples that one of the secrets to maintaining a healthy marital relationship is the deliberately planned inclusion of couple time so that husbands and wives can simply be together to enjoy each others company, and to grow in their relationship together.
Interestingly though, we don't really see that same focus given to advising families to deliberately schedule regular quality time together - sure, we hear about the importance of being present for our kids, and about family meal times, but how often do we regularly hear people advocating that families should deliberately plan regular family time together, and that this should be a non-negotiable part of their family life?
And when I say 'family', I don't just mean your spouse or children only, I'm also talking here about your parents, your siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
We talk often about the plight of our elderly, or other marginalized groups in our communities who struggle with terrible loneliness, but what are we actually doing to address this issue in our own families, especially during the one time of year which can be the loneliest for many people.
It has become somewhat of a trite slogan of late, but none the less, it is still true that families really do matter, a heck of a lot in fact. Sadly though, it's often when we need them most that we suddenly find ourselves without them because, up until that point, we had simply taken them for granted in the midst of all the other things vying for our time.
It's amazing how often we put family second to other less important things in our life, assuming that family can wait and that they'll always be there when we need or want to call on them later.
In the middle of all the current pre-Christmas insanity I have already begun planning for the family time and events that I will be devoting myself to this holiday period. This includes having my schedule cleared before Christmas actually arrives, so that the days leading up to the 25th of December aren't just one big haze of busyness with family left in their wake.
This isn't to say that I am reducing my family, and time spent with them, to some sort of project or function in my life, as this would also be terribly problematic. Rather, I am preparing now because I know that if deliberate intent and forethought isn't given to this area of my life then this Christmas break will be yet another holiday period that I will look back on and wonder exactly where all the time went, and why I didn't manage to spend as much quality time with my family as I was hoping to.
I think this is especially pertinent for us men, due to the universal habit we males have for turning holiday breaks into periods of DIY project management.
If you have a time-consuming handyman project that is going to take days and days to complete, I encourage you to save it for the weekends, allowing you to devote those precious (and rare) work-free weekdays to relaxing and being with your family this holiday period.
Most importantly of all, start planning and scheduling those family times and events now, before it's too late, and your holiday time becomes overrun with all sorts of other things - the new deck or landscaping makeover can wait till February, your family can't.