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News from the Nest: Take the time to enjoy the holidays

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house, EVERYONE was stirring, even the mouse.

As Christmas quickly approaches we are all reminded of the craziness of this season. Whether that means juggling family schedules so everyone can be seen over the holiday, shopping amongst thousands of people, baking dozens of goodies or shoveling out of your driveway from the always timely Christmas snow storm, we all go through it this time of year.

This past weekend we had our first of several Christmas celebrations with my side of the family in Detroit Lakes. Although the day did include a busy kitchen and activity followed by activity, looking back there were also some simple, sweet moments I hope to always remember.

My daughter is two years old and quite the character. This was the first year she was really able to unwrap her own presents. During the gift opening, my brother-in-law drew the short straw and was the designated garbage collector. You know the role; they hold the garbage bag for all the used wrapping paper to be tossed into. My daughter did a great job helping put wrapping paper into the bag. Later in the day, hours after all the gifts had been opened, she would continue to find scraps of wrapping paper on the floor and find her uncle, clear across the house and give him the pieces of wrapping paper to throw away. The garbage bag was long gone but with a smile he continued to collect the tiny papers she found.

My son, five, was SO anxious for presents this year. As a nervous mom, I had a talk with him prior to gift opening to remind him to say "thank you" after each gift he opened. He did great. Not only did he say the two words after his presents, he closely watched and appreciated as others opened their gifts as well, even the adults. Although he wasn't overly ecstatic when I received clothes as my gift, he followed around the room respecting the person opening the gift and curious as to what they received. The only problem was he got so close and in their face we had to ask him multiple times to back up a little bit and give the person opening a little room to breathe. Hey, at least he cared.

Food plays a big part in our Christmas gatherings as I'm quite sure it does in most. My parent's kitchen table was covered with treats, crackers, appetizers and more the entire day. My daughter is a grazer. At one time she sat at the corner of the table for at least a half hour, grabbing a cracker every once in a while and always asking for more cookies. Later, when my sister went to get a few crackers for herself she noticed three or four that had one bite taken out of each and then had been put back on the tray. I'm guessing my little girl would take a bite and upon realizing it was just a cracker, not a cookie, sneak the food back on to the tray and try again. I tried to keep a close eye on her, especially near the kitchen table, still, most of the day she was sporting chocolate at least somewhere on her face.

As my son continues to get older, we've been trying to play more board games with him. A few of us played the dice game Farkle during the evening and I invited him to join in. His first dozen shakes of the dice ended with at least one die on the floor. However, he quickly got the hang of a less aggressive shake, which of course is also less fun, but he cooperated. The point of the game is to try and rack up as many points as possible and stop before you lose them all. This was difficult for my son to understand, why would anyone want to stop shaking the dice? So although he didn't win, and no I'm not the type of parent who will rig a game just so my kid can win, he was proud he was able to play his first dice game with the big people.

As the hustle and bustle continues, likely through the New Year, take time to observe the less chaotic moments. Whether it is something goofy a little one, or big one, does or just spending time with family. Most people aren't going to remember how many varieties of cookies you served or if all of your decorations matched perfectly. Leave that all to Martha Stewart. Take time to enjoy each other's presence, and well, presents. Merry Christmas!