We call our two youngest kiddos "the Littles" because, well, they're little. And we have three teenagers who aren't little. The picture above was taken right around last Christmas-time just a few weeks after Aidan was born. Dad and Mom weren't sleeping. But Dad caught a short nap with the two Littles. A moment of precious peace. I love times like that. They seem so rare.
It's nearly a year later, and everywhere I go I'm hearing about the upcoming Holidays. The mad rush to get the best deals on Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, or whatever (I can never keep track). And I keep thinking, "I don't want this year to be a crazy year." I want it to be simple. And meaningful. I want to have some more nap time with the Littles. And maybe some real quality time with the Bigs. How do I do that?
It seems to me that part of what turns the holiday season into chaos is the lack of a plan. Things keep getting thrown at us. Our friend hosts a party. Our work hosts a party. Something goes on sale. One of the kids has a concert. Then the other kids have concerts. Something else goes on sale. Then the group gets together after the concert. We have to schedule pictures. And Santa. And make sure everyone gets the right toys. And the same number of toys. But the older kids don't need toys. They need clothes. Or school supplies. Or something for one of those concerts. And it just keeps coming.
In the course of helping people plan for their incapacity or death—it's coming for all of us—I watch something happen. Clients go from unsure or uneasy to calm and full of peace. Why? Because when they learn what they can really do for their families and then take action to do it, all of their concerns and worries simply vanish. They don't wonder anymore, "what's going to happen to Johnny?" or "who will take care of Sally?" They don't worry about their adult kids fighting over money or paying too much in estate taxes. They know the grandkids have something to look forward to with a little help for college, or their first home, or their first business, or whatever they may need. And because they have a plan in place, they are so happy. They tell me they feel a burden lifted. They've been putting this off for years and now they're finally at peace. (And they're not even laid to rest, yet!) Imagine that: You can rest in peace before you rest in peace!
Back to the holidays. What if we all made a plan? What if right now—before the season descends upon us—we took some time and really thought about how we wanted to spend our time and money between now and December 25? What if we thought about what we have and made a budget and actually stuck to it? What if we blocked out our family time now and held it inviolate? What if we signed up to serve somewhere and invited some friends to serve with us? What if we started talking with our families about what's really meaningful to us at this time of year—before the marketing is in full swing and we get caught up in the wave? What if we made a plan? Even if it's just a simple plan?
Planning works to bring real peace to individuals and families I meet with all the time. Maybe I should follow my own advice. Maybe I should plan some nap time with the Littles. That sounds really, really nice.