Dr. Jackson

My family had a very low-key Thanksgiving this year. My kids and husband sat down to the Thanksgiving feast, and after our prayer, my husband asked the kids what they were thankful for this year. The older kids gave typical answers (Jesus, family, friends, warm house, etc.). He turned to our 3 year old, who was already gnawing on a turkey bone. “And, what are you thankful for?” And with 3 year old glee, she stood in her chair, turkey bone still to mouth, “LUNCH!”

And so, my child teaches me to live in the moment. Children are particularly skilled at this. As an adult, I tend to dwell on the past or worry about the future. My kids will do this, too, but they have less material to draw on, so they might as well think about the now. I am inspired take the time to meet them where they are. To exult in lunch. Because lunch is not a means to an end. It is the most important thing that I am doing right now.

As we enter the Christmas season, I find it particularly helpful to take a step back and plan less. This is not a “lower your expectations” planning for less. It is planning for special events, but also planning for less of them. It is planning times to be present with my children without a schedule. Borrowing from a recent podcast (Read Aloud Revival): our children are less likely to remember the cool craft that we planned to exquisite detail, less likely to think fondly of how clean the house was or how the decorations were perfectly straight. They are more likely to remember the time we spent with them. Reading, baking, playing, looking them in the eye when they tell us elaborate stories.

We can plan parties, outings, Christmas light viewings. I love all these things. But I also have to plan to not plan. Unplanned evenings, for a jigsaw puzzle to an audio book. For hot chocolate or wassail. For a winter nighttime star gaze. For a spontaneous trip to the park.

We have so many good things that we can do this holiday season. Let us not forget to enjoy and invest in our good people while we are trying to accomplish the good things. Let us not forget to exult in lunch when lunch is set before us.

Be flexible, be smart and be patient. You can do this.

Katie Jackson, M.D., is a pediatrician at Utica Park Clinic Claremore.

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