I heard someone say recently that “busy” is the new “fine.” When someone asks “How are you?” the typical answer is now “busy!” It seems busy-ness is a prideful right of passage. We run ourselves from place to place without stopping, trying to pack as much into each day as we can. Victory is when it all gets done and checked off the list. Woe to the person who gets in the way by driving too slow, making conversation in the line, or adding unnecessary or unplanned agenda items to our already-packed day!

Christmas sometimes falls victim to the trap of busy-ness, because there are so many fun things to do this time of year. If we aren’t careful we will miss the fun trying to have so much fun! So parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, guardians, god parents, neighbors, and more--- I want to remind you of a gift that we have all been given with our school-aged children this Christmas. The gift of time. Our kids have two weeks off from school and their time is yours. Their time is theirs. No schedules, alarm clocks, or school work. No deadlines, stress, or projects for school. You should make the most of this time.

But before you start googling “Best Family Christmas Activities” and turning into Clark Griswald from the movie “Christmas Vacation,” let me remind you that “busy” is the enemy. You don’t have to schedule every single second and/or make sure each day looks like a Hallmark Christmas movie. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars finding the perfect gifts trying to keep up with “the Joneses.”

It may sound cliche’ but the best gifts we can give our children is uninterrupted time with us. Time without electronics or devices. (Maybe don’t even take/post their picture in this culture of Social Media overload...just remember it in your mind.) Remind them that they are loved and safe. Pause their chaotic and “plugged-in” world. Stop the busy-ness. Yours and theirs. Have conversations and give them choices. Do nothing. Or everything they want. (within reason of course!) Read all day. Bake lots of cookies and eat them, too. Start traditions and make memories, because this time, truly, is a gift.

Ask any mother whose son is graduating high school this Spring. Or better yet, whose son just had his own baby boy, making her a grandmother for the first time. Ask the young couple whose baby girl went to Kindergarten this fall. Ask grieving parents and family members who would give anything for one more day with a loved one who is not here this Christmas season. Time is precious and spending it wisely is a decision you’ll never regret.

And guess what?

When kids come back to school after Christmas Break, they might mention a couple of cool gifts they received. But what they will talk most about, the memories that will remain with them for years to come and what they will treasure up in their hearts and someday pass on to their own children, will not be things. They’ll be the times that you all snuggled up and watched movies til midnight since it wasn’t a “school night,” or when you all drove around town and looked at Christmas lights. That day you all stayed in PJ’s ALL DAY, or the time you came and took them to Stoby’s for breakfast. The giggles and “inside jokes.” The way their Grandma still cooks homemade biscuits and gravy. How their Daddy took them to the deer woods when it was still dark outside. The games of Monopoly that took hours. The night Mom let them sleep in her bed. Special Christmas experiences that are truly priceless. The gift of time together. The best gift of all this Christmas.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Conway Public Schools!