All is Calm: The In-Between of Christmas & New Year’s

December 2023

by rebecca stewart

The hustle and bustle of December can be a lot as we bake and shop and fa la la la our way into the holiday season. So much work for everything to be over in what feels like the blink of an eye. In the aftermath, we catch our breath and settle in (sort of – some are still work, work, working) for some moments of calm after the chaos. It’s the in-between of Christmas and New Year’s when the kids are still on break from school, we don’t really know what day it is, and we can enjoy real face time with each other. Here, where all is (kind of) calm, we’re going to brainstorm some ideas for making the most of this mid-schoolyear break.  

keep calm and PUZZLE on 

Put the hot cocoa on and gather ‘round the table for some family puzzling time. While you could tackle that jigsaw puzzle you’ve had tucked away for a rainy day, here are some bonus puzzle-related options for the family to enjoy. (Might I add that puzzle-building might be a great time to include the grand or great-grandparents).  

  • Rush Hour- A “sliding block logic game,” you can utilize this for some individual quiet time or turn Rush Hour into a family adventure by timing each other and competing card to card or, if you have two boards, going head-to-head. Other options could include doing a blind draw of the deck and challenging each other or seeing who can get the farthest in the deck before getting stuck. 
  • Metal and Wooden Brain Teaser Puzzles Set- This would make for a solid stocking stuffer, and these brain teaser puzzles are fun for every age of your family!  
  • Kanoodle / Kanoodle Head-to-Head Puzzle- This colorful puzzle is like bringing some of your favorite game apps to life. In the Head-to-Head option, it’s giving Battleship in its setup, except you’re competing to see who can complete the puzzle first. Its compact size also makes for another unique stocking stuffer idea.  

keep calm and CRAFT on 

When thinking calm and crafting, one thing really comes to mind, and, as an added bonus, it’s also got the cozy factor. You guessed it, crocheting or knitting. Fun fact: I know how to do neither, but I have always wanted to learn. If you’re in this boat with me, I guarantee a friend, family member, or YouTube tutorial can help you get the yarn rolling.  

If this strikes more anxiety than calmness, then literally anything craft-related will probably spark joy in your children. One Christmas break was all about the Spirograph at our house; for others, it was finger painting or whatever Crayola magic had been gifted her. Play-Doh anyone? Or gather various odds and ends and have everyone create something from…nothing, followed by an art show. My 17-year-old recently discovered painting to be the thing that brings her calm and joy, and it provides unique art for her walls.  

One of several pieces currently gracing her walls | Painting by Abby Stewart

keep calm and SNUGGLE on  

Listen, is it really a winter break if we don’t stay in our jammies for at least the entirety of one (if not more) day(s)? From there, a movie marathon with all of your favorite snacks is a must. Get your most snuggly blankets, put the phones away, and pile up on the couch to watch your favorite (or new!) movies. Some suggestions:  

  • Original vs Remake- There are copious options to choose from, but some greats for this are: The Parent Trap, Cheaper by the Dozen, Little Women, Ocean’s Eleven… 
  • And then there were many- Make a true marathon with movies that have spawned sequels; you’ve got options for everything from animation to action hero. If we’re feeling nostalgic, let’s go for something like Back to the Future, but just Google “movies with sequels,” and you’ll have ideas for days, sorted by category. What a time to be alive.  

Odds are that you also received a book or two this holiday season, and there is nothing more delightful than snuggling in on your comfiest chair or couch to get a marathon reading session in. Many a holiday season, this is when I binge-read the latest Jodi Picoult novel.  

keep calm and PLAY on 

In all fairness, “play” doesn’t exactly strike thoughts of calmness, but play brings joy, and joy can bring calm and peace. So, in the in-between, let’s play!  

  • Outdoors- You can keep it close to home with snowman-building, snowball fights, and sledding, or take your fun on the road by experiencing ZooMontana in the heart of winter, where you can experience the animals frolicking in the snow. And then, let’s bring that fun indoors with hot cocoa, fire-less S’mores, and fort-building in the living room.  
  • Gaming- For years, the hubs and I would come home after our Christmas Day festivities, pull out the nibbles, and settle in with whatever Wii game we’d purchased that holiday season. I can’t totally explain it, but there’s something bonding about playing video games together. You want to join in, trust me.  
  • Games- Not to be confused with gaming, we’re talking board games and card games. UNO Attack is a favorite in our house; Catch Phrase is solid gold if you have enough people, and Can You Name 5? or Tapple are delightful if you have an excitable group. Although, when we’re talking about this magical in-between time, we’d be remiss not to bring Monopoly into play. Memories are made in those marathon moments.  

keep calm and INTENTION on 

Ah, the calm and quiet of the in-between…Okay, sometimes it is neither calm nor quiet, but it is a much-needed reset button as we prepare to head into the new year. It has been time spent together that surely looks different as the years march by, but is precious, nonetheless. Perhaps as the clock ticks down and another calendar page turns, you and yours will spend time setting your intentions for 2024. May we all devote our time and energy to where it is most needed this year, and may we find a way to count our blessings in the calm and the chaos. Happy New Year!  

Originally printed in the December 2023 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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