On Entering the Holidays with a Hopeful “Yes.”

A few days ago, my husband sent me an email. The subject line said “Winter of Yes?”

I didn’t understand the subject until I opened it and found this image:

I’m positive my kids would love to go to this, but it would be a pain. It will be cold and dark and past their bedtimes, and we’ve been busy, and wouldn’t it be easier just to stay home?

Of course it would be easier. It’s always easier for me to say “no.” But last summer I changed my default setting to “yes,” and I was so happy with the results. (So were my kids.)

Christmas is a time for saying “yes.” I want to do special things. I want to make happy memories. I want to say yes.

My Winter of Yes

So, here goes nothing. I’m declaring it the Winter of Yes. Here’s my first go at brainstorming the things our family wants to do, the memories we want to make. A holiday bucket list, if you will:

1. Take a drive (or two) to gawk at the Christmas lights.

2. The holiday toy train exhibit at the botanical garden. They do this every year but we’ve never made the effort. This year we will!

3. See The Nutcracker at the ballet. This is becoming an annual tradition.

4. Family movie night. We’ll pop popcorn and watch a holiday movie. This isn’t something we do the rest of the year, which makes it extra special.

5. Bake Christmas cookies with the kids. We don’t bake together much (honestly, it stresses me out), but the kids really love to get messy in the kitchen and this is the time of year to do it.

6. Take a carriage ride. We wanted to do this when we were in Williamsburg last month, but it was going to cost our family of 6 more than $500 an hour! I made some calls when we got back home, and we can take a ride for a fraction of that here. It’s still not cheap but I think it will be worth it.

My Winter of Yes won’t look quite as exuberant as the summer’s did: winter lends itself to cozy evenings at home, and I won’t say yes to anything if I start thinking about flu season. But I plan on saying “yes” many times this season.

Making Memories, and Keeping Them

I also want to be a good memory keeper of all these memories we’re making. I’m resolving to have my camera ready and with me and to keep snap-snap-snapping away. (And then to actually print those photos so we can enjoy them!)

Fuji Instax camera memory keepingI’ve been thinking about ordering one of the fun newfangled Polaroids to help capture the memories. I have idealistic dreams of the kids and I snapping photos we can enjoy and give, but I’m not sure what reality would look like. (Quite possibly like a great big squabble-fest.) This is the cute little camera I’ve been eyeing.

Anybody have experience with one of these? I’d appreciate your thoughts in comments.

What are you saying “yes” to this season?

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Comments

  1. Dorothy says

    May I just say that I understand the overwhelming desire to do fun stuff throughout the holiday season and the exhaustion that comes along wtih trying to do it all. When my children were very small, I brainstormed a way to include important new traditions into our family without regretting the time and energy commitment. So, I came up with 25 holiday activities from very small commitments to larger commitments, then spaced them out on the calendar. I made an advent poster including the 25 activities beginning on December 1st and posted it where my children could see it. Every evening after dinner we would have a family devotional time then see what the activity for the following day was going to be. This became one of our favorite holiday traditions because we were able to schedule time to make ginger bread houses, decorate cookies, shop for gifts, make little ornaments, decorate cards, etc., etc. Just thinking about it now makes me quite nostalgic since my children are now adults and are forming their own family traditions. Happy memories!

    • Anne says

      Dorothy, what a great idea! I always resist structuring my days like this because I tend to feel “stuck”–but I’m slowing learning what wonderful planning a little structure can bring :)

      Thanks for sharing the great tip!

  2. says

    anne –

    i love your list! my little guy is just barely 7 months old, but i have been thinking and planning about how to make this season meaningful for our little family. it’s too easy to be stressed about the month, rather than using our holiday time to serve, love and enjoy one another and our community. i’ve been inspired by a number of blogs out there to plan and and document (as you mentioned) — one of my favorites has been cami’s alittlegraceandmercy.blogspot.com. she recently posted (on nov. 23rd) their family’s december list, which i enjoyed because it has both larger and smaller activities on it (much like what dorothy just shared). have a lovely december saying “yes”!

  3. says

    These will be great memories for you guys! This brings back great memories of baking Christmas cookies with my mom and the year my great-aunt took all the girls in the family to see the Nutcracker in Chicago.

  4. says

    sigh. i love this :-)
    i’m making this my intentional season of saying “no.” :-)
    a bad bout of pneumonia and laid flat by physical exhaustion. . . i’m convinced my best way of saying “yes” is in the “no.” but you’ve reminded me there can be enjoyment in the warm and cozy. . . right from the couch, perhaps??? i think i’ll try to find as many ways to enjoy our season from the living room, and help the family (and myself) learn to give and receive grace in the process.
    have fun–and while i’m resting i’ll pray for protection over all of you in your joyful wanderings. sound like a good deal?
    blessings,
    steph

    • Anne says

      Thanks so much, dear. Sounds like a great deal to me!

      And of course there is much enjoyment in the warm and cozy, right from the couch :) Sounds divine, especially for someone on the mend.

  5. says

    I do this exact same thing! I try incorporating books, holiday movies, and activities throughout the season, things that are easy to do or fun with a few big things peppered in. I love your list!

  6. says

    I really like the idea of this (missed it when it was the Summer of Yes). A winter of Yes sounds so much better than one of discontent. Or meh. Think this will be my new filter when trying to decide what we should and shouldn’t do. Thanks!

  7. says

    I think your Winter of Yes plans seem very realistic – enough to make the season special, but not so much that you’ll wear yourself/everyone out or make it so that you don’t actually enjoy everything you’re doing.

    And I wish I was closer to take my son to the train exhibit. He would LOVE that. May have to see if there’s something similar around here and make my own list for a Winter of Yes. :)

  8. says

    I am right there with you on the not baking with the kids much. I am trying my best to get better at it but it is so hard. I am discovering what works best with me is to pick one child at a time to be my helper. Mine are all 10 and up so they understand the concept of taking turns. My 16 year old can now make the whole family pizza, my 12 year old makes hot dogs and my 10 year old makes ramen noodles, so this one on one time with mom in the kitchen appears to be working. Oh and ya I do plan to teach each child more than one meal!

  9. Elizabeth Kane says

    Ahhhh! I’m so excited. I want a winter of yes too. Which reminds me…I need to get tickets for the Nutcracker. I loved going as a kid – so magical. And the music is fantastic.

    I think if we know what to say no too, we have can have room (and energy) for more yes. :)

  10. Jennifer H says

    We always do a couple drives to look at lights. When you do yours, come over to Middletown to Ledges Rd near Tucker Station Rd – there is an inflatable snowman that is taller than the house!

    Here are some of the other items we plan on doing:
    Dec 7 – Light Up Middletown OR Dec 8 – Christmas at Blackacre
    Dec 9 – niece’s dance recital!
    Dec 12 – Christmas music concert at Christ Church United Methodist on Brownsboro Rd (my aunt’s church – we try to go every year)
    The week before Christmas, S is out of school so I won’t be working as many hours. We plan on a cookie baking day and an ornament making day.
    Dec 27 – Zoo Camp day (just for S, not a family activity)

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