There’s going to be chaos. And it’s really okay.
We may need this reminder as we head into the holidays this year.
Does your family take a Christmas photo every year? Oh the memories! And sometimes, Oh the headache!
That’s one common example shared with us by a granddad. Each year his family has a photo taken of the entire extended family. It’s one of their Christmas traditions.
And each time it’s a similar experience: They manage to get everyone together in the same location, dressed just right for the perfect photo. But then … well, we all know how kids are.
When many of the grandkids were toddlers and preschoolers, “chaos” would be putting it mildly. There were kids melting down, running off in the wrong direction, or just about falling asleep. Then a diaper change. And a messy sweater from lunch.
Frustration levels soared. Are you kidding me!? Is it even worth the hassle? That granddad felt the stress, and he didn’t even have to deal with most of it.
But later, he said that, when he saw the photos, he never would have known there were all those challenges. Everyone looked great! And ten or twenty years from now when he looks at that photo, he won’t even remember what that day was like. He’ll just be thinking about his amazing kids and grandkids and how they’ve grown and changed. And he’ll be wondering where those precious years went.
That’s one example. What will cause you the most frustration during the holidays this year? Chances are, you can’t really anticipate it. Maybe you look forward to the “perfect” meal or evening or outing, but things go wrong. The kids argue and fight. Or you’re a single dad and the agreed-upon plans to be with your kids fall through. Or there’s a blizzard. Or you can’t get in to see the Christmas play. One thing builds on the last, and pretty soon you wonder if it’s even worth it.
Well, here’s your reminder: it is worth it.
In many ways, our kids’ memories are like that family photo: What they remember in the years ahead is going to be better than what you may feel at the time as the dad. It might be hard for you to get past today’s challenges, but do all you can to see the bigger picture.
Expect a little chaos. But also expect some great family time this Christmas. Invest yourself one hundred percent in connecting with family members and bringing the meaning of the season home in a powerful way.
When things go wrong—and they will—you don’t have to worry so much or get stressed out. Just smile, keep rolling with it, and look forward to the next thing on your schedule.
How have you learned to respond positively to holiday stresses and conflicts? Please share ideas with other dads on our Facebook page.
Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Looking at holidays in the past, what has caused you the most stress or frustration? Talk with your family about some things you can do different to make things go better.
- Do you enjoy taking family photos, or is it a hassle? If it’s important to your kids’ mother or someone else in your family, do your best to have a good attitude and make it work.
- If you have young kids, expect them to “melt down” at a time that’s inconvenient. (Although it’s never convenient.) Right now, think about how you’ll respond in a positive way.
- Ask each of your kids how they feel when they know you’re angry.
- Think about five or ten years in the future. How will you want your kids to remember the holidays with you?
- Find time during the next few weeks to do a one-on-one ice cream, coffee, or burger outing with each of your kids.