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A Christmas Cry with Kids
by Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, www.acpi.com

I was worried my kids wouldn't get to bed on time. It was close to the time they'd normally get their pajamas on, but it was a special night. Tonight was the night to decorate the Christmas tree.

When I saw the excitement in their eyes, my concern with their bedtime ended. While my thoughts were fixed on late bedtimes and tired kids, their thoughts were on hope, promise, and the excitement of the holidays. On this night, hope and promise won out.

As I watched them running from the decorations to the tree, I felt their hope and excitement. I felt further and further from the "everyday worries" of moments before. And as I watched them working together to create something beautiful, something else happened. I began to be filled with love for them.

I watched them for awhile longer, and said, "You know, you two are great." My 6-year-old son hesitated for a second.

"You are too, Dad," he said.

It was my turn to hesitate. For a moment, I felt numb, and then the feelings came. Tears of joy and gratitude streamed down my face. "Thanks, buddy," I whispered back. My eight-year old daughter glanced at me and asked me if I was crying. "Yes, honey, I'm very happy right now," I told her. She walked over to me and gave me a hug. A second wave of feelings came, and I breathed deeply.

As I sat there hugging my daughter, there was a part of me that was concerned about my kids taking "emotional care" of me. It felt a bit uncomfortable to be crying in front of my kids, and it felt odd for my daughter to comfort me. But there was something else happening here.

We were having "a moment." It was a moment where we felt how close we could be, and it was a moment when my kids were seeing my authentic joy and gratitude. A moment we would all remember for the rest of our lives.

After "the moment" passed, we continued to decorate the tree with lights and ornaments. When we'd finished, we got back into the "daily routine" of bedtime preparations. When my wife and I had gotten our kids to bed, I reflected on the moment that had passed, and my life as a parent.

I thought about how easy it was for us to feel unappreciated, disrespected, and taken for granted as parents. It seems we do so much for our kids, and we don't get the recognition we deserve. When life gets hard, we often long for the past, or look to the future, but we avoid the beauty of the present.

And then a moment like this comes along. One of the moments that creates meaning in your life. The kind of moment that reminds you of why you're doing all you're doing. And when you experience this kind of moment, it's easier to live each day and each moment with joy and gratitude. It's easier to face the occasional drudgery of everyday life. And it's easier to remember why we were put on this earth: To love each other, and to help create a better world through that love.

As you move into this holiday season, remember to open yourself to your own "moments." They can happen at any time, and they'll appear when you have the courage and awareness to open yourself to the present moment. These moments can be filled by joy or pain, but they shouldn't be judged by the happiness they create. They should be judged by whether you open yourself to that moment, and whether this moment fills your heart and your spirit.

May your heart and spirit be filled with "moments" this holiday season, and may you teach your children to open themselves to this spirit as well.

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches busy fathers by phone to balance their life and improve their family relationships. Mark is an Instructor for the Academy for Coaching Parents (www.acpi.biz), and the author of 25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers. Visit him and the free resources at his site at http://www.markbrandenburg.com.

More Holiday Articles:
 • Christmas Giving by Dr. Caron B. Goode
 • The Gift Every Child Really Wants by Pam Leo
 • A Christmas Cry with Kids by Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
 • Gimmee-Free Holiday Shopping by Elizabeth Pantley
 • Holiday Toy Safety Tips

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