One hour after opening presents this Christmas, my youngest child, Evan, put down his newly unwrapped 3DS game, sat back on his heels, and hung his head in classic hangdog Evan fashion. (He's a little drama king. We just love him. Evan is pure entertainment, all the time. But I admit I really feel for the little guy at times like this.)
“What's the matter, Ev?” I asked, kneeling next to him and cozying up confidentially.
“Christmas is over now,” my seven-year-old sighed. “And it just gives me a sad feeling.”
“Let's talk about it,” I said. “What parts make you sad?”
He looked around the room, obviously seeking some answer. He hadn't considered the “why,” just the feeling. “We have to take down the tree,” he said at last.
“We can leave the tree up for at least two more weeks,” I promised him. “We always do. And do you know what? Christmas isn't ever really over. We have our toys, we have all the food. We have the songs. We have each other.”
He half-smiled, wanting to make me feel I'd said the right thing (he's a sensitive and caring dude). But something was obviously still missing.
“We're still on vacation, aren't we?” I asked. He nodded solemnly. “Well then...let's keep on partying! 'Christmas' isn't really over until New Year's Eve. People are still in a party mood. Let's do a bunch of fun things this week.”
He brightened. At least some sort of celebration would continue. And I knew I had something.
What I discovered that holiday week was that an easy letdown from the spinning-out-of-control frenzy of Christmas truly helped. Here are some of the activates we came up with to help segue from “frenetic jolly-good fun” to “business as usual” for the new year.
Make Holiday Card Puzzles
This was SO much fun...and so easy. We coated the prettiest/coolest/funniest holiday cards we'd received with Mod Podge, allowed each side to dry completely, then cut the cards into crazy shapes. Each “puzzle” went into its own Ziploc bag. Voila – puzzles that carried on the Christmas spirit!
Revisit Those Christmas Lights
The four of us – my wife, the two kids and I – went on a nice long car ride the night after Christmas to look at all the Christmas lights. Most people seemed to have their lights on; enough that it was really fun, and really magical. Before our holiday lights tour, we stopped at Starbucks and ordered cocoa for all, with whipped cream, of course (“child” temperature for the kids). We drove for almost two hours, sipping our holiday drinks and pointing out the most amazing decorations. So fun.
Plan New Year's Eve
Our local store was selling cheap holiday poppers – and tons and tons (aaaaaaaaaaaaand TONS) of festive baked goods and yes, drinks. My kids are still too young to stay up until midnight, but we went shopping for a mini New Year's Eve party to be held after dinner on the 31st. We picked up the poppers, gold and silver-sprinkle cupcakes and sparkling cider. We DVRd a few really fun child-friendly movies. This activity took up two days with fun: the planning/shopping, and New Year's Eve itself.
Have a Holiday Toy Playdate
A few of my sons' friends took off for parts festive (or in some cases, warmer) for Winter Break, but others stayed local. We invited three friends for a holiday toy playdate. Each child brought his or her favorite toy gift and shared around. The kids had a fantastic time oohing and ahing over one another's gifts and trying them out. (NOTE: Whenever you arrange a playdate, make sure you know each child's potential sensitivities. We had a child who could not have nuts and another who reacted badly to certain synthetic materials. Since this was a sleepover, we made sure to serve appropriate food and have natural bedding ready for our “sensitivity” kids.)
Play WITH Your Child
And speaking of toys, how about getting down on the floor and playing with your child? I recall many Christmases as a youngster, playing alone with my gifts while my parents chilled out. While I can't blame them (and didn't then), I found that acting childlike and challenging the kids to a round of Super Mario Monopoly really put a smile on my guys' faces and extended their enjoyment, bigtime. (By the way...I didn't win. AND I had a great time.)
Life Goes On
“It's all over” seemed to be Evan's lament, and it's many other people's letdown as far as I have seen from family, friends and my own experience. No, it isn't all over! A new year is dawning. More holidays are coming (my kids brightened at the thought of Valentine's Day candy and cards). Events are probably planned – Grandma's big birthday bash, little league, the school spelling bee, spring clothes shopping. Remind your child that there is ALWAYS more fun to come – today, tomorrow and all the year through.
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