Merry Christmas! Not long ago, during an informal gathering of our staff, I asked, “Growing up, what was important to you about Christmas?” Just about everyone talked about what they did with their family, that time together.
And that’s true for me, also. I love hanging out with our grandkids, and their parents — my adult kids and their spouses — aren’t bad either. Adding my bride Melanie and my youngest son Chance to the mix, I can’t imagine anything better than that time with our family.
During the next week, I’m sure there will be a moment when I’ll just stand back and take it all in. I’m always fascinated to see how different family members function with each other. It may be a chaotic moment with kids screaming about some meaningless thing. Or it may be a quiet moment in between scheduled activities. It’s a chance to reflect on how the grandkids have changed in the past year — inches they’ve grown and skills they’re developing — and how my grown children and their spouses are maturing and growing in wisdom as well.
Of course, that will also lead to thoughts about my changing role in all of this. What new challenges will come up, and what role can I play in offering advice or assistance, or just being there to support?
Maybe your house is more chaotic than calm. Maybe your kids are causing the commotion and you’re the one who needs to referee the conflict. Still, I hope you’ll find a moment to observe your family and reflect on the blessings you have. I may be a bit odd in some ways, so this may not be the kind of thing you do, but make sure you step back and observe your family. If you’re a brand new dad with your first baby, soak it in. If you’re a single dad who has to be flexible regarding when you get to be with your kids, make the most of the moments you have together.
Just stand back and watch your children. Make mental notes (or notes on paper) about how they have grown and changed — new skills they have developed, ways they are showing greater maturity, or how they relate to one another. Tell them how proud you are of them, and how good it feels to be their dad.
Dad, this season is not about being a perfect family — it’s about your family. So, whatever your situation or your holiday plans may be, I hope you find ways to enjoy the privilege of being a dad during the holidays.
Our best wishes to you this Christmas from all us at the National Center for Fathering and WATCH D.O.G.S.