During the past few years, I’ve gotten used to the somewhat unpredictable demands of freelance work. There have been times where I’ve juggled multiple projects for five or six clients at once. Other times, paid client projects only require a few hours each month. One thing, however, seems pretty predictable — the holidays are almost always a slow point for freelance work. For that I am eternally grateful.
Each year I feel slight twinges of panic wondering if my career has officially ended instead of simply a sign of the season. But more than anything, each December I feel grateful. Because right now, I get to concentrate on my family during a particularly special time of year.
Last week our Elf on the Shelf arrived. Since I had time on my hands, I decided to make it special for the kids. So, when Jon arrived home from a business dinner he found me elbow deep in Christmas decorations, setting up an elaborate arrival scene, featuring our elf, a homemade advent calendar and a make-your-own cinnamon toast station at the breakfast table (our elf is named Cinnamon Toast). My bewildered husband thought for sure I’d lost my mind.
After the initial arrival celebration, our elf’s creativity plummets considerably. She can usually be found sitting on the Christmas tree (again!) or sliding down the bannister (again). Even so, the kids take great delight in the whole production.
I’ve found the elf to be a great way to bring some fun to the advent calendar. The past couple years I’ve fashioned a homemade version using a few pinterest printables and paper lunch sacs. Each numbered package contains the day’s nativity related bible verse, a suggested christmas activity and a prize. I didn’t want to include toys or candy in the packages this year (they get so much already this time of year) so to make it fun, I purchased a small Christmas-themed lego set and included a few pieces in each package. By the 24th, we’ll have built the entire scene.
I’ve found particular joy in sharing all of this with Lillian. At five years old, she is absolutely delighted by everything Christmas related. As cliche as it sounds, watching her truly makes me feel like a kid again. But it also feels a little bittersweet. Now that she’s in elementary school I know these days are fleeting. I don’t imagine there will be many more years like this before I find myself reading her “Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus,” with tears streaming down my face.
With that in mind, we’re doing less. I’m doing less. Less work, less blogging, fewer parties and commitments. This Christmas the most important gift I can give my family is time. Because, right now, while they’re little, it really is magical. And like all magic, it can’t last forever.