The Lessons of the Holidays

Every holiday season we get our tree as soon as possible. First week of November it feels like. Hibernation doesn’t take long to settle in here, hot chocolates on the regular, tea, dark chocolate (pour moi) and our favourites like Polar Express, Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts (pour moi) and on and on…

This year my littles have zero interest in going out into the world to partake in “traditional holiday cheer”… no Santa Claus Parades, no Light festivals. There is one close by that is our annual haunt. It’s an epic adventure to Upper Canada Village where all the buildings are lit up, music, festive cheer, hot chocolate, carriage rides. It’s a favourite. I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. And I made sure to buy passes for the carriage ride as last year my kids really wanted to go for a horse drawn ride in an old carriage and this year when we chatted it seemed like a fun idea.

Here we are… today is the day and no one, I mean no one wanted to go.

Husband: whatever you guys want.

Littles: nah, I’m so happy being here doing what I’m doing.

Me: Ugh… I have all these ideas of what makes the holidays special yet my kids are reminding me it’s not about going out to events… it’s really about being happy doing what we’re doing. So I worked through the “shit I spent money on these tickets!” and got to: “Oh! I know!…”

A text later:

Me: “Hey! I have these tickets, no one here wants to go… do you think you guys would like to go?”

And ba bango our friends were off to an adventure that brought them immense joy. She sent me photos of her beautiful son enjoying the magic of the festivities and there it was… joy. They were in-joy-ing themselves, we were at home exactly where we wanted to be and it. all. worked. out.

I could have said:

“NO! We’re going. I spent good money on these tickets! We’re going and we’re going to have a good time!”

I could have shoved my kids in the car and forced them to go. There would have been arguing and upset and frustration (and wow.. isn’t that the antitheses of joy.) Sure, we may have had a good time at parts though I know how we all move through the world and I know we would not have gotten the joy out of the experience like we would have if we were all super eager to go. And I know our friends likely had a much more amazing time than we would have because they were eager to go.

How amazing is that? Honouring where we are at; being ok with not doing all the stuff, defining what the holidays/life look and feel like for us, knowing how to listen and respecting when we say: “nah, not today”.


This is not really about what I bought tickets for or any event or any thing. This is an opportunity to reflect and be ok with listening to what it is we need and what our kids need even when it goes against every single belief we may have had once upon a time. And whose beliefs are they to begin with? Are they ours? Are they really?

Can we stop and reflect on what makes our holidays special even if it flies in the face of the standards we’ve grown up with? Or do we keep going along with what we think makes life magical rather than being able to see the magic that already exists.

Can we stop and reflect on what makes our life amazing with our kids right now in this moment?

Can we stop and realize we actually do want to do things differently and it will take courage and it will take bravery.

Stepping onto our own unique path as families is not always an easy thing to do. We unravel layers and layers of beliefs that we accumulated over our lifetimes to find this exciting opportunity to define life exactly how we want to live it. Not by any one else’s standards. Just ours.

Being an open hearted parent, Unschooling… this path is not the norm though I will tell you this… the further along we go, the more I learn about (and from) my children, the more I learn about myself… it has been the greatest gift imaginable. I’m still learning, every single day and I wouldn’t want it any other way. How fabulous is that.

p.s. I do hope you define your holidays the way you and your family wish them to be. And I do hope you define your lives the same way. Listen to your children. Listen to your heart and be in joy with them.

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