Parenting Guru: Seeking simple joys in 2013

I really do love most all things about the holiday season; yet for the past few years, I've noticed something about myself at the end of Christmas Day: I'm beyond done.

After all the intense weeks of holiday planning, shopping, card addressing, house decorating, tree trimming, cookie baking, present wrapping, and must-attend holiday events are finally complete, I am not just out of gas, but in need of my favorite post-holiday antidote: the ocean.

Before we became parents, my husband and I started a lovely tradition of going for a walk at the ocean New Year's day.

Instead of traversing shopping malls staring at merchandise, we walk long stretches of sandy beach, staring at rolling waves and changing colors on the horizon.

Instead of holiday muzak and radio jingles about last minute stocking stuffers, we listen only to waves crashing and gulls flying overhead.

Instead of focusing on what had to get done, or where we had to be, we focus on the simple realization: a new year has begun. We're here, together, and that is a wonderful thing.

These days, it feels especially important to share this tradition with our 5-year-old daughter. She's as cranked up about the holidays as most kids are, loving all the activities and traditions and go-go-go pace. She's all about the presents and holiday lights and treats. But come New Years Day, I think she also feels the need to run around a mostly deserted beach, digging for treasures in the sand. I see her remember again that yes, ocean waves crashing at your feet is as much fun as any toy on her list.

For our family, it is less about making resolutions New Year's Day, and more about reminding ourselves of what is important to us: the simple joys of being together as a family, exploring the outdoors, connecting, listening, laughing, appreciating all that we have. As the tragedy in Newtown reminds every parent so profoundly, the simple joy of having each other truly is a blessing, and more than enough.