My blog is still pretty young, and I’m still trying to discover exactly what I want it to become. So far, it’s about one part business to one part daddy blog. My goal for this site is to chronicle my quest for health, wealth, and happiness in a world gone crazy, so today, during this holiday season, I want to talk a little bit about how my family is finding joy in our Christmas preparations.

First, it’s important to note that we are Catholic, and we are pretty serious about separating the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Whereas most of the U.S. throws up their tree and lights as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over, we recognize the four weeks leading up to Christmas as a time of preparation. We use this time to prepare our house and our hearts for Christ.

nativityThe Advent wreath comes out and the nativities are arranged. My wife has a wonderful habit of collecting nativities at thrift stores, so we set them up all over the place: we’ve got two in the dining room, one over the fireplace, two in the kitchen, and one in the bedroom.  And our tradition is to keep baby Jesus hidden away in a cabinet until Christmas and keep the wise men set up in the distance until the Epiphany.

To make our home a peaceful and welcoming place to celebrate the Christmas season, we spend extra time cleaning up the clutter that has accumulated over the months. We have an especially bad habit of piling junk on top of exposed surfaces. So far, we’ve managed to clean the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom, and the playroom (that was a heck of a junk heap!). All that’s left is tidying up the art room, which I started today but had to leave behind in order to tend to a crying Cobweb.

We just got our tree on the 19th and decorated on the 20th. Honestly, that’s still a bit early for my tastes, but we knew the rest of the week was going to be incredibly busy, so we took care of it early. If I had my druthers, we’d buy the tree on Christmas Eve morning and decorate it that night. It’s a Christmas tree after all, NOT an Advent tree. People always trash their tree by New Years. Well not us. We celebrate the holiday as an entire season, so the tree stays up for a good long while.

Today, my wife spent the morning baking 150 cookies–which is only lone-third of what she plans to make. You see, we decided to simplify gift giving this year among our friends. Instead of individualizing every single gift, we’re just giving bags of cookies to everyone. And boy does my Titania make some good Christmas cookies. For our nieces, nephews, and other youngins in our lives, we purchased a slew of sticker activity books for about a dollar apiece.

The preparation is almost done and soon the holiday will be upon us. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

How does your family prepare for Christmas? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

“I’m not going to be raising a child. I’m going to be raising an adult.”

These are the words of Hermann Jonsson in a Tedx talk he gave titled “And so I decided to become the world’s best dad.”

It’s only about 15 minutes, but it’s a worthwhile view for any man setting out to be an excellent father. When he learned that he was going to be a father, Hermann created a vision of the person he wants his children to become one day, a vision of the values he wants them to carry. From there, though, he realized that the only person who he can really control is himself. So, he decided to transform himself into the type of person he wants his children to be. If he doesn’t want his children to drink, then he mustn’t drink. If he doesn’t want them to watch hours of TV, he mustn’t watch hours of TV.

But even doing this won’t be enough. It’s not strong enough to be a strong role model for children, Hermann realizes that he also must work on COMMUNICATING this vision to his children. He does this by using communication hacks to send strong messages to his children. For example, when talking about his daughter’s artwork, he focuses on her NOT the art, and he gets physically down on her level. He also always allows his children to stay home from school when they tell him they can’t go. He doesn’t interrogate them to find out whether they are really sick or not. Instead, he takes the pressure off of the child and then seeks to learn the TRUE reason that his child doesn’t want to go to school. This builds trust between him and his children by sending them a message: “Come to me. I will listen, I will take you seriously, and I will respond.” Hermann fears that when parents are too quick to dismiss their children’s needs, anxieties, or emotions, they are shutting down the lines of communication that are necessary for proper parenting.

Listening to Hermann’s talk was a bit humbling. Sometimes when I am dealing with my own kids, I feel like a detective. Constantly trying to deduce their lies, outsmart them, and coerce them into obeying my will. I think my biggest takeaway to share with you from this video is that if you want your kids to grow up to be a better person than you are, you need to envision the goal, strive for it yourself, trust your kids, and build open lines of communication.