Last night we had a family meeting. After two long months of weekend rehearsals in a theater program, hectic college schedules, piano students in and out of the home, chaotic and ever-changing work schedules, we found ourselves all HOME at the same time.
Like a good momma, I knew it was time to make hay while the sun was shining, and call a Family Meeting!
We had lots to discuss. I mean, it IS the week of Thanksgiving and December IS right around the corner.
I would not take no for an answer. In a rush, before they got too involved in a movie, or someone fell asleep, I had to act fast! Grabbing a large dry erase board from my neighbor, we began our meeting at 7pm. My wonderful husband, after all these of marriage, knows that Nov / Dec are the months that mom REALLY needs to be leading these meetings. It didn’t hurt his man-side one bit. He held the gavel to maintain order, and I held the dry erase marker.
Item ONE – Schedules
Who’s going to be where and when? How are we going to get everyone where they need to be this week? What’s priority and what can we say “no” to? Flow charts are a beautiful thing when you have so many different schedules in play.
Item TWO – Thanksgiving plans and menu
Who works this week? Who gets to play Ultimate Frisbee Thanksgiving morning? Who can shop on Black Friday?
And the BIGGIE…
Who is cooking WHAT?
We drew it all on the white board and they were more than enthusiastic to be able to OWN this year’s Thanksgiving feast at our home. On Wed, we will have 6 chefs helping in the kitchen, with Daddy taking a “multi-park-day” with our four year old and her 19 month old sister. This is where he disappears for the day with the littlest girls and wears them out taking them to as many parks as he can find. My 17 year old son is tasked with multiple trips to the grocery store for whatever we need. The rest of us will be cutting, chopping, glazing, layering, prepping, singing and laughing all day in the kitchen. It’s our COOKING Day and we LOVE it.
Item THREE – CHRISTMAS planning
When you run a large family, it’s much like a small business. There are many moving parts and if you can channel the energy and creativity to one common goal, there is no end to the difference a family can make in the world. When we plan Christmas, we plan the SEASON of Christmas. Every day has something on the calendar that is FESTIVE and memorable.
We want to dig deep and build strong roots with our kids that will secure them a sturdy and healthy future adult life. It occurred to me in our meeting, that this kind of family meeting would never have been possible 10 years ago. Having teen drivers changed the dynamic of our holidays in the most remarkable way. Just when I felt like I could not go through another Christmas Season again with limited funds and low energy, all of the sudden, my kids grew up! They say things to me like,
“MOM, we HAVE to go see ‘such-n-such’ musical, we do it EVERY year!”
“Mom! We HAVE GOT to do the LIVE NATIVITY, we do it every year!”
They each eagerly volunteer to take the younger sibs to the ice skating rink…and better yet, to PAY for it! Just last week I was crying to a friend of mine telling her I just didn’t think I could “DO” another holiday season again. I was just too tired and burnt out. Now it’s my KIDS who are carrying me, sharing the experience, lightening my load. Not too many years back, I was exhausted trying to find all the right gifts, stay up all night assembling and wrapping them, only for them to be bored two days later.
Christmas was something I just wanted to SKIP entirely.
Now, my kids actually GET it!
Several years ago I made an intentional decision to make Christmas about a BUCKET LIST: Things we wanted to do as a family to experience moments together. December 25th would be anti-climactic, a relaxing morning with a few gifts under the tree, where family gathered around and just hung out together.
We wanted to arrive at Christmas morning with our love tanks already FULL.
We knew that we would never meet the expectations set by our younger kids for Christmas morning, with their endless wish lists, so we turned the tables and decided to pour out our lives and our schedules from Thanksgiving to Christmas day. Our present to them would be our presence during the holidays…and they noticed!
Our Christmas bucket list so far looks like this:
- Black Friday shopping
- Walking around the mall looking at decorations
- Participate in a Live Nativity
- Attend a local drive through nativity scene
- Make pumpkin bread and homemade cocoa and take to neighbors.
- Make soups in mason jars for teachers.
- Watch It’s a Wonderful Life at the theater
- Attend a large Christmas pageant
- Attend The Messiah and the Nutcracker
- Look at Christmas lights
- Ice Skating
- Trip to grandparents
- Christmas crafts and cookie baking day
- Attend a Christmas play our girls are involved in
- Recitals and Visits with friends
- Church Christmas Eve service
- On the nights we are home, we pop in a classic Christmas movie with popcorn and hot cocoa.
The Family Meeting gave us a chance to actually show them on the white board what we had planned for the season. They all jumped at the chance to pair up with different siblings and go on mini-outings with each other. The Family Meeting allowed them to feel a huge part of our community, and it got their wheels turning as to what THEY could contribute to the season.
Life is filled with moments. Moments are bricks in the wall of your children’s soul. Build daily, build intentionally, love with abandon this holiday season.
Take some time to plan your next family meeting, you’ll be so glad you did!