Searching for a happy holiday? Slow to a child's pace

November 26, 2004|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

I can tell it's almost winter just by looking at my children's hemlines.

Pants that extended to shoestrings last December are up above ankles this year. Children grow so quickly, and never is it so evident than the beginning of a season.

So we set off on a recent Friday night in search of clothes that fit.

Shopping with a kindergartner is an adventure. Explanations are a constant: "No, you may not have a sleeveless dress for the Christmas concert. You will get cold."

(What are these children's clothing designers thinking? A 5-year-old needs warmth and cuteness, not sophistication.)

"No, you may not have that dry-clean-only dress adorned with feathers."

(Do people really buy those things for their children? Do they buy them for themselves?)

"That other holiday dress is pretty, but it costs too much money. Mommy doesn't even spend that much on a dress for herself."


(And I can wear things for many years because I've stopped growing - apart from a few inches acquired over the last few years.)

After we had whittled down the selections to about a half dozen possibilities, we made our way to the dressing room. That is where a mother's patience is really tried. Most children this age are so independent, wanting to take off and put on everything by themselves. We want them to learn the process, but it's hard standing by knowing that if we helped, things would go 10 times faster.

The mother in the dressing room adjacent to ours must have had similar thoughts.

"Come on, now, Daddy's waiting for us," she said, just slightly out of breath.

I picked up one of the outfits my daughter had discarded and placed it back on the hanger.

"Hurry up with that, will you!" said the mother next door, her mounting frustration evident.

Inside I was chuckling. I wanted to say the same things to my daughter, but I knew from experience that it would only make the situation worse.

As we decided to buy only one of the six items we tried, the other mother was still trying to get her daughter out of the dressing room.

Then I thought about the weeks ahead of us and all the children who will be rushed from here to there, the tired parents who will be frazzled and the store clerks who will be caught in the middle.

This is one December that I don't want to rush. I want my family's enjoyment of it to last for years.

In order for that to happen, expectations need to be lowered. More evenings need to be spent at home. Do we really need to run all those errands? Attend so many events?

We'd all be better off after a few evenings cuddled up together with a book to share.

I want my children to be totally aware of the wonders of Christmas.

I've been tossing the toy catalogs that have arrived in the mail. I don't want my kids to focus on what they don't have. I want them to appreciate what they have.

We won't be making a lot of homemade goodies to give away this year. We'll just pick a few recipes to cherish and share. We'll savor the creamy taste of homemade hot chocolate after a sledding romp down the hillside.

We'll have dinner by candlelight more often - even on weeknights - to aid relaxation and the feeling of togetherness.

We'll play more of those board games we have on the shelves so we can get to know each other better.

For that's what creates true memories.

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