Earlier this fall, I was at our local craft store when I noticed the Christmas stuff was already out. I was still in flip-flops, sans coat, and I was staring straight at Santa. I heard the very first Christmas song on the radio on November 6th. Soon afterward, I started noticing Christmas lights and displays popping up here and there.
It’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I love that Thanksgiving brings family and friends together to celebrate the truly important things in this life. Together, we gather and give thanks for life’s ordinary joys, and then we eat mass quantities of pumpkin pie.
I love Thanksgiving. I love it so much that I used to take it personally that folks broke the rules and seemed to skip right over it by blasting Christmas carols, stringing lights, and sticking inflatable Santas on their lawns. After all, everyone knows you can’t do those things before Thanksgiving!
And then I had kids.
And kids love Christmas.
Not only do children love Christmas, but they change Christmas. Being around children as Christmas approaches brings back some of that childhood magic, doesn’t it? You can’t help but get excited with them. The anticipation, the joy, the happiness – it’s a wonderful time.
A wonderful but fleeting time.
Why I Let My Kids Watch Holiday Specials Before Thanksgiving
Here’s the thing: kids are only kids for such a short time. It’s a short season. It seems as if one minute they are writing letters to Santa and then next they are handing you a Christmas list and asking for your car keys. Those magic days of childhood are gone in a blink, and always well before you are ready. I can already feel the door closing and I want to push it back open, to fight against time and fate.
And that’s why I break those rules.
So, we string some twinkle lights well before it’s time for pumpkin pie.
And when Dominic the Donkey comes on the radio before Thanksgiving, we turn it up and rock out rather than turn the dial.
And when my children ask if we can watch Christmas specials together, I answer with an enthusiastic, “Absolutely!”
Savoring every last drop of childhood magic with holiday specials
Do you remember how excited you were to watch those specials as a kid? Do you remember when the list of holiday specials would come out in the newspaper? Do you recall how your parents would cut it out and -if you were lucky- set the VCR to record the event?
Nowadays, all of those favorite Christmas Classics are so accessible! You can record them on your DVR or order them via Netflix or Amazon. Do you want to watch Heat Miser sing his song again? You don’t have to wait until next year, you can watch it again right now. Talk about magic!
In our home, we have a collection of Christmas DVDs. I keep them hidden until November and then we dust them off and figure out our holiday special strategy. If we want to watch The Snowman more than once, we will have to put it early in our rotation. This family that can go days on end without turning on the boob tube will watch one show most nights. It’s a happy, memory-making, magical binge.
Every day, as evening approaches, the kids start to get excited about that evening’s special. In truth, I do too. When it’s time, we grab our holiday mugs and fill them with cider or cocoa. We make popcorn and sometimes when we’re really crazy, we have a dinner picnic. When we are done snacking, we snuggle up in blankets or – in the kids’ case – Snuggle Buds and watch our favorite shows together. Each night as I watch the classics with my children snuggled up beside me, I feel just like George Bailey: like the richest [wo]man in town.
As we get closer to December 25th, the kids’ excitement builds until it is almost palpable. I, on the other hand, race to soak up every drop. Will it feel like this next year? How long will it be this magical? Then, I stop and remind myself to be grateful for this moment.
And I am.
I’m not skipping over Thanksgiving, but rather embracing the blessings in my life
So, this Thanksgiving will be like all of the others before it. I will offer thanks. I will spend time with my family. I will eat mass quantities of pumpkin pie. But we will also listen to Christmas carols, string some lights, and gather together to watch our favorite holiday specials snuggled under blankets with cocoa in hand. And doing each of those things will help us to have grateful hearts when it’s time to eat that pie.
One day, years from now, I won’t watch children’s Christmas specials before Thanksgiving. I’ll change the dial when I hear Dominic the Donkey because it’s too early. I’ll wait until I’ve had my fill of pumpkin pie before stringing those twinkle lights. I’ll do those things because my children will be grown. They will be living elsewhere, with their own families. And if one day they confess to me that they broke the rules, that they watched some Rankin-Bass with the kids before Thanksgiving, I’ll smile and remember the good ol’ days when I did the same.
What are your favorite holiday specials to watch with your children?
Here are just a few of our family’s favorites. I’d love to hear yours!
Leave a comment and let me know how you create memorable family traditions during the holidays.
So let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be little.
~ Let Them Be Little by Billy Dean