This is, and has been, my favorite time of year. Yes, I can say it’s because I love spending time with family and friends. I can say it’s because I love giving gifts. I can say it’s because I love snow and curling up next to a cozy fireplace and sipping hot chocolate and munching on yummy treats. But it’s so much more than that.
I maintain a website (www.freefamilyfuninct.com) that lists free events for families around Connecticut. I have discovered lots of great events and activities over the course of the last few months, as I’ve searched for events to add to the site. While it’s always nice to find fun activities to do with the kids, lately I’ve discovered more than just some fun activities. I’ve found big events, weekend-long festivities, that are completely free. Why are they free? Because communities, and the organizations in them, have learned the true meaning of this time of year. They are willing to dish out hundreds – maybe even thousands – of dollars to bring people together. Activities, music, Santa visits, carriage rides, tree lightings, free food and drink…all for the sake of fun, laughter, and togetherness. That is what this time of year means for me.
It’s unfortunate, I think, that so many have lost sight of that. They make the holidays all about the material gifts, about spending tons of money to have the latest gadget or coolest toy. They bicker in stores and rage on the roads, all in a frantic attempt to capture their vision of the holidays. But what if we all stepped back, took a deep breath, and thought about what’s really important? If we did, I think we would find that the real joy of the holidays is still there, if we’re willing to look for it.
Over the next few weeks, if you find yourself wrapped up in the craziness that is holiday shopping or pulling your hair out over the money spent, I encourage you to step back. Put on a holiday movie (not one of the cynical or stupidly funny ones — one of the heartwarming family ones), read a holiday book (I can offer several suggestions if needed!), or attend a community event. Keep your mind open, breathe in the simple joy of it, and let yourself enjoy it. I think you’ll find that you can still be a kid again. You can still take pleasure in the holidays.
The most wonderful gift to me? Hearing my children giggle. I would give up all my material possessions if I could only hear them giggle, delighting in the simple joy of being kids. And that doesn’t cost a thing.