Tag Archives: family

What we needed to get through a cold, dark Monday morning

skiingIt’s been a pretty unremarkable mid-January Monday morning. We woke up in darkness to temperatures nearing -20C. The distractions of the weekend receded into the past, our minds all focused on the work commitments, homework assignments and errands of the week ahead.

We try to eat breakfast together most mornings (or at least be in the kitchen together for a few fleeting moments, since getting our 12-year-olds to eat anything in the morning is an uphill battle), but this morning my husband was out walking the dog when the rest of us converged over toast, cereal and breakfast smoothies.

There were no arguments or battles (of the “she’s wearing my shirt!” or “I forgot there was a geography test today” variety), but not much in the way of laughter or shared warmth. A cold, dark Monday morning kind of mood.

It’s mornings like this that I like to hold on to those memories of happier family togetherness. Hard to imagine that a little over a week ago we were enjoying three days of time, just the 5 of us. No cellphones for the kids. No friends to compete with. No restaurant outings, Wii games or work commitments hanging over our heads.

The nice folks at Smuggler’s Notch Family Resort in Vermont had invited us down so I could check out their new family activity and their impressive adaptive skiing program for kids and adults with physical and cognitive impairments. We took advantage of the time to get in some skiing together. Even the snowboards got left behind. Just the 5 of us, together around the fireplace, riding on chairlifts, enjoying the outdoor hot tub, indoor waterparks.

It was really special.

We are very fortunate to have a place north of Montreal to go for skiing and summer fun, and we have a wonderful community of friends up there that make it all more enjoyable. We love those group skiing outings, pooled lunches at the Cafe and packs of happy children racing each other down the mountain.

But it’s also nice, every once in a while, to focus in on our children. To really listen to what they have to say. To let them pick the runs, decide when it’s lunch time. It was also wonderful to explore a whole new mountain together.

These are the things we need to hold on to as vacation shifted back into work and school and the messy business of day-to-day life. At very least, it got us through another Monday morning.

Holidays with your tween/teen: a different kind of magic


Happy holidays!

Happy holidays!

They don’t believe in Santa anymore. They don’t fill Christmas wish lists with requests for ponies or pogo sticks or Easy Bake Ovens. They don’t wake us up at the crack of dawn to open the pillowcase of presents on their beds, or rush downstairs to see if Santa ate the cookies they’d left for him. They don’t cram their mouths full of chocolate Chanukah gelt or spend hours playing dreidel games on the kitchen floor while I fry up the latkes.

But they also don’t fight over who gets to build which gingerbread house, or whose turn it is to light the Chanukah candles. They see me cleaning up the spilled candy and offer to help. They ask if, instead of a big bag of Christmas presents, we can use some of the money to send them to summer camp. They grate the potatoes alongside me, and can help flip the latkes without me worrying about the house burning down. They set the table for our annual holiday dinner party, and wipe down the guest bathroom.

They can spend whole days out skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing without temper tantrums and naptimes. We can watch movies without animated characters. They help carry in the wood for the fireplace and walk the dog.

Our holidays are different now that our three girls are no longer small children. Since we celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas (my husband and I have different backgrounds), December has always been particularly hectic and exciting. We have an eight-year-old who still (sort of) believes in Santa Claus, so we still get to tiptoe up to their beds tonight and drop off the bag of gifts, but the edge of magic has worn off for our 12-year-old twins.

It’s a different kind of magic now. One that has less to do with flying reindeer and is more about concentrated family time at a cottage by a snow-covered lake, where their cellphones don’t work and we aren’t competing with friends for their attention. The work of cooking and cleaning is divided between more hands, so we are less exhausted. There is definitely still bickering and sibling rivalry, but it’s less likely to end in tears and time-outs.

We’ve become aware that the kind of family Christmases we have with our children is changing. And we’ve begun to conceive of a time when one or two or even all three may be off travelling or spending time with a boyfriend’s family during the holidays instead of us (gulp). It makes these few days all the more precious and wonderful. That’s a special kind of magic.

I wish this kind of family magic to all of you this holiday season. Whether you celebrate Chanukah or Christmas or just winter, savour some of that special time with your kids. Because it doesn’t last forever.