Sometimes Christmas Eve is not the most relaxing night of the year.
There was the time that assembling the Big Wheel (or insert any other toy that comes in pieces) almost turned into an all-nighter. The picture on the box looked easy enough, but the written instructions seemed almost unintelligible. Maybe it was the pressure of the deadline — when the children would become "unnestled" in their beds and want to see what was under the tree.
It didn't help that I had procrastinated wrapping the other presents.
Christmas Eve should be a magical night — a time for family, music, love and spiritual feelings. So how do you get there?
? All year, emphasize that Christmas is not about the glitz but about the spirit. Teach your children about realistic expectations for gifts — and try to remember the realistic expectations yourself.
? Pace yourself as you gather gifts and try not to leave everything until the week before Christmas.
? Don't leave all the wrapping until Christmas Eve.
? Simplify your holiday plans so that preparations and cleanup don't take over your life.
? Plan your Christmas Eve activities — whether it's going to look at lights, having a family program or opening a few gifts. Make sure the workload is spread out so that no family member feels stressed.
? Read the Nativity story from the New Testament (Luke 2:1-20). Some children might resist hearing it every year, but don't cave, because the story is important.
? Enjoy the happiness that giving to others and feeling the spirit of Christ bring.
? Build in some "chill time" so that you can unwind from any stresses.
? Come up with traditions that will be meaningful to family members. They will become precious memories.
Oh, and be sure to study those assembly instructions before it's crunch time.