by Hadas Kuznits

With our hectic lives, it’s hard to believe that Chanukah is here already! It seems I haven’t even finished my Thanksgiving leftovers and we’re moving on to the next holiday. Why is that? The time moves so quickly, and I believe that it’s moving even faster than ever being that I have two children.

This season, I believe the best gift we can give ourselves, our families and especially our children is to slow down. The more we slow down, the more we notice. The more we notice, the more we remember. The more we remember, the less the days bleed into each other – and after all, isn’t this the point of it all? Having meaningful moments.

As we enter into the heart of the holiday season, there are three goals I’m going to try to accomplish:

  1. Slow down – less is more.
  2. Be present – put down the phone more often
  3. Let go of perfectionism – and forgive myself when I don’t fulfill my own expectations, and when I can’t accomplish the above two goals!

Our holidays don’t have to be filled with things and social gatherings and special meals to be meaningful. I guess this is a lesson my children are teaching me (aren’t children the best teachers?). I don’t have to be perfect and we don’t have to have perfect dinners, perfect gifts, perfect fill in the blanks. For kids, the best present is being present… speaking of presents, why is it that you can buy the nicest gift and the little ones are more interested in the box? From what I’ve seen, it’s the act of tearing off the paper that gets them excited, the surprise of what’s to come and the feeling that they were special enough that you thought of them.

This holiday season, I am acutely aware that with small children, these are the golden times from which memories are made. I want them to feel important. I want them to remember our conversations and that I cared and that we laugh and have fun together. No pressure there! But seriously, I’m learning that the most important things are the simplest.

So as we wish each other “Happy Chanukah” or “Happy Holidays” I’m going to think about what it is that truly makes me happy. It’s the people in my life who love, care and support me. (This doesn’t always mean family. Let’s be real, for some people, family during this time of the year can actually be a cause of stress.) Don’t worry that you’re not as perfect as your Facebook or Instagram friends. Don’t compare yourself to them, I guarantee you, they have edited those moments. In fact, put down your phone and turn it off – studies have shown, that will make you happier!

It’s not easy to focus on what’s truly important and what really makes us happy but the one thing I know is happiness comes from people, not things. My toddler doesn’t remember the gift he opened last year, but he knows we have holiday traditions. Lighting the Chanukahcandles, spinning the dreidel. Last year, we had one child, this year, we have two. How lucky we are for the people in our lives. I get sad because I feel the time moves so fast – but my husband reminds me the time moves exactly at the perfect speed. If time won’t slow down, perhaps I can do my best to do what I can to slow myself down.

So as the holiday approaches, I’d like to wish you a Happy Chanukah, everyone! I hope you savor all eight, long days with those you love, enjoying simple pleasures (like suvganiot) and simple but memorable family traditions!

jkidphilly mom Hadas Kuznits is a reporter for KYW radio. Connect with her on twitter at@hadaskuznits.