As the kids went back to school today, and our lives returned to normal, I kept thinking about the whirlwind that was December.
Our kids are older now and the holiday magic changes as they grow up. I’m discovering that I enjoy Christmas with older kids more. It’s sweeter in ways I didn’t expect.
Here are the lessons and rules about celebrating Christmas with the older kids in your life.
1. First rule with older kids: get their gifts early in the season. Gift buying with big kids is harder.
Why? Because as your littles grow into bigs, your family becomes busier than ever. When our kids were toddlers, I could leave them with a sitter and elf around town, hunting for presents and buying stocking stuffers. Older kids are different. When I’m headed to the mall, they want to come along.
Older kids are smarter too. When they were toddlers, I could turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and wrap gifts in the same room without them even noticing. Not anymore. Now they get the mail and see the return address from Vineyard Vines and realize exactly what they’re getting. Also, thanks to some mysterious setting, all of our Amazon orders show up on all the kids’ Kindles. And we buy a lot of gifts from Amazon.
2. Second rule: as they get older, let each kid celebrate the holidays in the unique ways God wired them.
Teens and tweens are in this new season of their lives when they really are becoming the adults they will always be. There’s a small moment happening here–as they begin to let go of your trapeze and grab their own.
I love seeing how each of our kids embraces a different part of our family’s traditions.
Catie loves decorating for Christmas and I can imagine she’ll become one of those girls who puts twinkly lights up in her dorm room. Elisabeth is such a thoughtful gift-giver and she’s definitely one of those who gets more pleasure from giving than getting. Sam is a festive kid. He likes the parties, the sparkling-apple-juice toasts, and having friends and family over to celebrate. Nate has always loved music but Christmas music is his jam. He can listen to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” by Pentatonix over and over again.
Many of these habits, traditions, preferences, and enthusiasm will stick with them for a lifetime and there is something so magical about glimpsing their future celebrations.
3. Third rule, recognize the memories you make with your older kids will probably be the ones that stick.
Little kid Christmas is frantic with energy and excitement. They are amazed by The lights! The gifts! The sweets! The parties! The visitors! It’s all too much and they need to spontaneously laugh or cry (or both!) at any given moment.
Big kids are more chill and there’s a lot more going on with them than just raw emotion. They ponder more. They can understand the deeper parts of the season and also the nuances of what’s happening around them. They appreciate the gifts because they realize the expense and time they cost. They cherish traditions as a connection to their past. They reject some celebrations and replace them with their own new ideas.
But they’re not jaded yet. They don’t have decades of Christmases behind them and they aren’t comparing them to “the good old days.” For teens/teens they are discovering the good old days right now.
Little kids won’t remember much about Christmas, but big kids will.
Because Christmas is older kids is different–and I would say that it’s a lot better.