Winter time and family love

HO, HO, Hectic Holidays

Channel your inner child and you’ll soon remember what gave you the “Christmas warm fuzzies.” Maybe the smell of homemade cookies is now wafting into your memory. Perhaps it was the excitement of opening a single gift on Christmas Eve before you went to bed, anticipating what Santa might have in store for the next morning. Whatever your fond memories might be, experiencing the holidays as a parent is like re-living all of your childhood Christmases — only this time, through the eyes of your children. This might sound spiritual and serene, but in reality, it can take a Christmas miracle to pull off juggling hectic holiday schedules with family.

Managing family demands:

When I was a child, I remember visiting my paternal grandparents on Christmas Eve, followed by a visit to my maternal grandmother the next day. It was pretty straightforward. But, we all lived in the same southern Ontario city, sharing the road with no more than a quarter million people. Today, my husband and I struggle to divide family visits so no one feels slighted. Our Toronto area starting point takes us from Windsor to Ottawa, all the while logging countless hours behind the wheel. We desperately try to play fair and every year, it seems like an impossible undertaking.

‘Tis the season to be giving, but there’s simply not enough of us to go around. Sound familiar? Like many other Millennials, I didn’t choose to plant my roots in the same place where I grew up. Instead, I followed my career path, which ultimately landed me in the GTA. That makes planning family holiday visits that much more challenging and stressful. And much like me, there’s also the blended family factor: obligatory Christmas visits might now include four separate parents, leading to an emotional tug of war.

For my husband and me, we try to alternate visits between his family and mine for Christmas Day. Now that our children are old enough to understand the magic of Santa, we’re faced with the decision of whether or not to stop our Christmas Eve visits to my home town, simply because we’d like to begin traditions of our own. Selfishly, I would like my young children to share the same fond memories I did of waking up to gifts from St. Nick under our tree.

Chaotic holiday schedules:

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but the holidays can seem like a scheduling nightmare. If appeasing your family isn’t stressful enough, what about planning visits when you and your significant other have opposite work schedules? My husband and I have dreaded the thought of co-ordinating our vacation time at the end of the year. The often demanding fields we work in means statutory holidays simply don’t exist, and one of us is often left working. But we always find a way to make things work, even if it means pushing back one of our family visits to January. After all, the spirit of Christmas is about togetherness.

Planning the rush and holiday hosting:

Thinking about balancing work with holiday visits can seem exhausting, but what about the added stress of hosting? Part of celebrating might include a soiree at your home, so get ready to stack more items on your proverbial plate.  Serving your own holiday dinner takes a ton of prep work, not to mention getting all your family recipes in order for those delectable dishes. While I enjoy hosting, I’ll admit I put added pressure on myself to make sure our guests leave our home with holiday cheer. This year, we plan on making our party more of a family potluck, complete with board games and holiday background music. The key is to try and tackle one party or visit at a time.

Stress less about gifting:

There are typically two extremes when it comes to shoppers: super-organized and chronic procrastinator. I tend to fall on the latter end, but when it comes to Christmas shopping, it’s imperative you have all your ducks…er…elves in a row! Experts suggest you take a page out of Santa’s book and stick to your list.

My husband and I feel very fortunate that our children have the luxury of receiving gifts from family and friends and admittedly, sometimes we feel overwhelmed with the amount of toys and gadgets in our home. In this case, you might consider having loved ones contribute toward an RESP. They can all put in a little or a lot for your child’s future. For a closer look at the Heritage eGifting program, take a look at HeritageRESP.com/eGifting.