Christmas Morning, It’s Childhood All Over Again

Lisa writes: Like every parent I struggle to understand where the years have gone.  I gaze at three full-sized humans towering over me and feel like I just watched a movie on fast forward and would give anything to see it again at normal speed.  And while that might just be a mom fantasy, Christmas morning is the one chance to rewind the tape and watch a small segment of my sons’ childhood played over again.

Christmas Tree, Christmas Gifts

Barbara Brotman of the Chicago Tribune threw out a terrific question, “Anyone else have grown children who turn into excited kiddies at Christmas?” Her family has a wonderful tradition of packing lunch and going off to the zoo, and although her daughters are well into their 20s, the family tradition is going strong.

Her question she got me thinking about why I so love Christmas morning, a ritual new to my life.  The answer I believe is that when we rise on December 25, my family rolls back the clock. For one morning a year I get to gaze upon my grown and nearly grown sons as they once were, small boys bursting with excitement.

It is only on Christmas morning that my kids will rise early with no place they need to be. They spend the day in lounge pants, bed heads abound and breakfast seems to  consist largely of candy.

When I give my kids a birthday present they politely open the wrapping and offer thanks. Christmas morning is a free-for-all with wrapping paper and boxes flying in every direction and three of them shouting and laughing.  In past years we have found unopened gifts the next day, such is the chaos and mess.

In their stockings are the same sweets and childhood gifts that thrilled them every year. It is only on Christmas that a 20-year-old thinks socks, underwear, chocolate and slinkies are a great haul.Christmas morning, Christmas Stocking, Christmas Candy

Every other day of the year there are comings and goings.  Even for other holidays, there are friends and family around, people dropping by, phones ringing and, of course, the kids endlessly texting.  But, Christmas morning the world disappears and we climb into our family cocoon.

I once said that my husband, sons and I have been like a two decade long loving embrace that, now that my sons lives have moved on, can never be the same again.  Except on Christmas morning.

12 Things to Remember Before Your College Kids Come Home

Lisa writes: Our college kids. We love them, we miss them — and then, when they come home for school breaks… we are ready to kill them. At Grown and Flown, we have explored life through these tumultuous years as we help our kids ready themselves for the adult world.

College kids home for the holidays

Here are some things to remember:

1. College kids love us but they love their friends too

Don’t be hurt when they give you the hello and goodbye and head straight out the door to see their old high school buddies.

2. They have spent a semester (at least) reinventing themselves and may look a tad different

Perhaps don’t lead with “OMG, you got your nose pierced!”

 3. Alcohol is very much part of college life

They drink at school, they will want to drink at home. Get the family policy ready.

 4. They may now have a girlfriend or boyfriend with whom they are sleeping at college

See above, get the family policy ready.

5. Cooking and cleaning, however, are not part of college life

After three months of cafeteria food they will have remembered how much they love your home cooking and forgotten how to put dishes in the dishwasher or where the recycling and garbage recycling and garbage are located. You will need to remind them.

6. Overcook for your college kids

Family dinner may be at 7:00, but around about 2:00 am college kids get hungry again. Leftovers will be very much appreciated.

7. Prepare to share the family car

If you are suburban dwellers and used to having your own car, the return of the college student can be a bit of a monkey wrench. Tell them you are happy to share an automobile with those who leave gas in the car, but not garbage.

8. If there are younger siblings in the house

…particularly those still in school and studying, the noise of the night late hours, odd eating times and alcohol consumption might not be the best example. College kids may need to be reminded that younger brothers and sisters are not roomates and should not be treated as such.

9. Money may be a new issue

At school your student may be on a meal plan and living on or near a campus that has relatively cheap entertainment. Back home they may have different ideas of entertainment that will need to be carefully budgeted before the party begins.

10. Many colleges have long breaks extending for three, four or even five weeks

College kids home for that long can easily get restless and bored, irritating the adults in the family for whom life has proceeded as usual. Make a plan with your kid on how this block of time will be spent.

11. Take a deep breath before responding to snide or cynical comments

…and don’t take them personally, regardless of how sharp the barb. You are readjusting to each other. Once the heat of the moment has passed, remind them of the correct way to speak to adults.

12. Enjoy every minute

These years are few and waning. After college your child may find a job and an apartment in a different town or simply be too busy at a new job to spend long luxurious weeks at home. While your house may be turned upside down with noise at all hours and an empty refrigerator, just try to remember how much you are going to miss this.

Do you remember visits home from college? How did your new independent life fit back into your parents home? How will you manage this with your kids?