originally printed in the Waterloo Region Record, January 5, 2010.
There’s nothing like the Christmas holiday season to clearly illustrate both what we do not have enough of, and what we have too much of. I couldn’t help but notice during the past couple of weeks, and I suspect it might be same with your family, that what we don’t have enough of, is time…and what we have too much of, is stuff.
As I write, we are in the glorious midst of a much needed break from the regular hustle and bustle of everyday life. While we enjoy our holiday, we are making a concerted effort to spend some family time just the four of us…which sounds ridiculous because, isn’t “family time,” by definition, something that should just naturally fall into place, rather than requiring a shoe horn to fit it in?
During a typical, non-holiday, we seem to run around at almost constant breakneck speed trying to keep all of our responsibilities and activities running smoothly. It’s not unusual for our 13-year-old son to eat dinner and do homework in a moving vehicle in order to maintain a travelling hockey schedule.
During this holiday, all four of us have sat, on numerous occasions, in the same room together for more than 15 minutes. More than once, I found myself wondering, why it is we don’t do this more often? The answer, of course, is obvious: we don’t have the time.
So even though we’re doing our best to avoid the feeling that, at the end of the holiday we’ll need another holiday during which to recover, there is still some obligatory rushing, but it’s “fun rushing,” usually without start times, or deadlines. These events are different, since we rush to them, and then we can slow down and relax once we get there.
Another thing I’ve noticed during this break - as if my housekeeping skills weren’t lacking enough to properly organize the belongings we already had – is that with the onslaught of kids’ clothes, games, activities and gadgets, we are now the dubiously proud owners of even more stuff.
And along with the new stuff comes an increased urgency in my never-ending quest to find a logical system with which to organize. In the interest of honesty, and the hopes that this personal purge will help me feel better, I must admit that my method, “Out of sight, out-of-mind” was recently challenged when I found a partly-organized pile of papers and items belonging to my daughter…from school last June. I was tempted to quickly tuck it back away, but realized (as if I didn’t know this before) that part of the problem in storing new stuff was that I first had to organize old stuff.
Unfortunately, apparently due to my children’s genetic make up, they too are sorely lacking in housekeeping skills, and also have some pack rat in them…so we all regularly succumb to: but what if we want to use it again?
Also obvious during the holidays is the need to consider our financial situation when preparing for the big day, and of course, shopping for the deals afterwards. Similar to Norad’s tracking of Santa’s journey across the world on Christmas Eve, my husband discovered another use for the internet when I was out Christmas shopping and Boxing Week bargain hunting. He could track my journey and see where and when my debit card had been used, and how much… longer I’d be gone. I’m sure he was simply eager to have the whole family home spending time together, rather than continuing to increase the amount of stuff coming into the house.