One of my favorite childhood memories is the smell of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls baking each Christmas morning. Growing up, Christmas Day was never spent relaxing at home. Nope! We would wake up well before the sun to open presents before heading out the door to go see grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. But before jumping in the car we would quickly scarf down those warm and gooey edible goods!
My husband and I have continued this, along with several other of our own childhood traditions, in our home today. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without a cinnamon roll breakfast. While it is fun to pass these kinds of experiences down from generation to generation there is also something special about creating new family traditions.
Several years ago, when my girls were still in preschool, I began taking them out for individual one-on-one Christmas dates. This has quickly become a highlight event for our family each December. Initially I did this to give the kids a chance to do some special Christmas gift shopping for members of our family, but it has turned into so much more!
Each date is personalized and caters to my kiddo’s individual likes and interests. It’s an opportunity to do something they love, to sit uninterrupted and hear what’s on their hearts, to laugh, and to make a lasting memory. We call them our “Mama and Me” Christmas dates and they are something we look forward to all year long. They pick the restaurants, the menu, the stores to shop at, and the gifts to purchase. I just go along for the ride.
But, enough from me. My littles want to share the details of these dates with you themselves!
“At Christmastime my mama and me go out for lunch before we go shopping… just the two of us. My favorite part is eating at Applebees where we talk about everything that happened during the year. I always pick a corn dog and oreo milkshake. After lunch we go across the street and shop at Walmart. When we are done buying presents we drive back home to wrap them. I love our ‘mama and me’ Christmas dates because of all the time we get to spend together”. – Isabella Wilson (Age 10)
“Each Christmas my mommy and me go to the Cheesecake Factory. l always get coffee flavored cheesecake that I share with my mom. We laugh a lot when we are together. After lunch we drive to Target and pick out gifts for my family. Then we go home (I have to sneak into the house so that nobody sees what I bought) and wrap everything. I love my ‘mama and me’ dates because I get my mom all to myself.” – Abigail Wilson (Age 8)
Aidan, our 4 year old, usually chooses to go to IHOP or The Waffle Factory. That boy has a sweet tooth that only syrup can satisfy. He typically asks to do this Christmas shopping at Wegmans (yes, Wegmans, because he knows he can get a free cookie. Our Christmas dates are extremely healthy … *wink*) to pick out Shopkins/Hatchimal grab bags for his sisters and something Buffalo Bills themed for daddy. I’m sure this will grow and change as he gets older but, for now, these simple experiences make him feel independent and bring him so much joy!
When I asked my kids to help with this post there was one common theme that quickly became obvious… they all love that, for this one moment each year, they have my complete and undivided attention.
Each of us craves attention, don’t we? It’s nice to be known. To feel appreciated. To be reassured that we are important and that our lives matter. But all too often we look for attention in dangerous ways and in regretful places – somehow forgetting that we always hold the attention of an omnipresent God.
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on earth below. There is no other. – Deuteronomy 4:39
I would encourage you this Christmas season, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus with your family and friends, to rest in the knowledge that you are seen and heard and loved by the Creator Himself. And I would also challenge you to take a moment during the hustle and bustle to find someone that you yourself can give a bit of undivided attention to. It’s amazing how a few minutes of your time can positively influence the lives of those around you!