November 24, 2009

Making Thanksgiving Travels Memorable, In a Good Way!

Many families will pile into cars this week and throughout the holiday season to make the trek to visit grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends.  Whether your trip is an hour or three days long, it can be a powerful time to bond with your family.  Don't let those lovely, silent, closed-in hours slip away in monotony!  Put away the iPods and headphones, stash the cheap romance novel, turn off the built-in DVD player and talk to your kids and spouse.

A little out of practice?  A lot of us are.  But car trips with my family during the holidays always brought us closer in the end, and we all learned a lot about each other.  Try out some of these tips if you're stuck.

  • Talk about the first Thanksgiving.  Elementary-aged kids, as you may remember from your own childhood, talk about the first Thanksgiving every year.  But the lesson may be a little faded for the grown-ups, so ask your kids to give you a brief history lesson.  
  • List what each of you is thankful for.  Corny?  You bet it is.  But it also gives a little meaning to the holiday.  After all, it isn't about turkey, gluttony, football, parades or shopping.  Thanksgiving is, for me, about being with some of the people I am most thankful to have in my life, my family.  
  • Talk about your family history and traditions.  Most kids love to hear about their family heritage, and most parents love talking about it.  Tell stories about the travels, foods, family or gifts from the holidays of your own childhood.  
  • Dig into some controversy.  Be careful with this one; but if your kids are older and like to debate, a longer car trip is a great time to do it.  How do they feel about issues like global climate change, same-sex marriage or the legalization of marijuana?  Really listen, and then take your turn and say how you feel.  Big disclaimer, though: if your family can't discuss an issue without hot tempers and hurt feelings, steer clear!  
  • Take stock of the year.  How are your schedules meshing this year?  Is your daughter feeling a little overwhelmed by gymnastics, basketball, piano and schoolwork?  Is your son not getting challenged enough in school?  Do the kids feel like they don't see enough of one or both parents?  Clear the air and throw around some solutions.  Again, a word of caution: now is not the time to insist, for example, that your daughter quit one of her extracurriculars.  For now, just let everyone speak their mind, listen to each other and brainstorm.  
  • Enjoy each other's company.  Maybe your conversation doesn't get deep or serious, and that's ok.  Put on some holiday music, or alternate who gets to pick the music.  Make up ridiculous ghost stories.  Play silly car games or mad libs.  Just don't let the entire trip slip by with each person staring out their own window or talking on their own cell phone.  

No comments:

Post a Comment