As the author of The Night Before series where many of my books are about holidays, I want to share some advice, “Don’t sweat the holidays.” We have images in our minds of the perfect holidays thanks to Norman Rockwell and Martha Stewart. And we have good intentions of creating the ideal celebration for our family and kids. But the reality of it all is PEOPLE ARE BUSY.
There are dance recitals, sports, after-school activities, homework, TV time, computer games, work, and traffic. Honestly, I don’t know how some people even get the turkey in the oven or the Christmas tree up!
When I write my Night Before books, I keep the modern, busy family in mind. The message I try to convey is, yes you should acknowledge holidays but do your best with the time and resources you have. The important thing is to show your children the joys of the holiday and to spend time with family and cherished friends.
In The Night Before Thanksgiving, I have the kids kick in to help mom prepare the Thanksgiving dinner. But as it happened in my childhood, there was always one family who had trouble making it to grandma’s house in Massachusetts on time due to a snowstorm. Despite the turkey almost being dropped and Norm being stuck in a storm, it all works out in the end of my story because the family is united and sharing a delicious meal.
When writing my first drafts of The Night Before Hanukkah, I surveyed my Jewish friends and asked them what they did as children to celebrate Hanukkah and what they do now as adults. One friend told me he and his wife were too busy to buy candles so improvised with a birthday candle when they fell short. That gave me the idea for the solution in the story and provided realistic humor.
For The Night Before the Night Before Christmas I wanted to show the pressures of preparing for Christmas by including a variety of mishaps during the countdown to Christmas morning. I have a family in the story that has procrastinated for various reasons (mom has the flu, the cookies burn, they waited too long to buy their tree, burned out light bulbs, the mouse has chewed holes in the stockings) yet still makes an effort to pull it all together. In the end, the message is not about decorating the perfect Christmas tree, but about love.
So if you think you need to write a fancy Christmas newsletter but wind up just sending out a quick email, don’t sweat it. If you planned on making four homemade pies to please everyone’s taste and end up buying an apple and pumpkin pie from Costco, don’t feel guilty. In the end, it’s about making an effort and enjoying the time with people you love - and reading a good book with your kids!
Written by guest blogger Natasha Wing. Ms. Wing has been publishing for 25 years. Some of her titles have ended up on best-sellers lists. She is known for her popular The Night Before series that includes holiday, school and big events in kids' lives themes. Ms. Wing also writes narrative nonfiction. Her latest book, When Jackie Saved Grand Central, received two starred reviews. www.natashawing.com