December 8, 2009

Making the Holidays Memorable

This is a wonderful time of year.  It is a time to realize how much we have and be thankful.  It is a time to renew old traditions and perhaps begin new ones.  It is a time to acknowledge those who are important to us with gifts and cards, visits and well-wishes.  It is a time for rest, family and friends, and a new beginning with a new year.

It is also a time of stress, social awkwardness (I didn't think she would send me a card!), unbelievable crowds when shopping, and dangerous weather when travelling.  With the gifts of the season come challenges; but the real challenge is how to pass some meaning on to your children with the pile of presents you give them, and how to keep the season as "merry and bright" as the songs.  

  • First of all, let go of the illusion of a "picture perfect" holiday.  Take a deep breath and realize that you can't avoid some of the stresses and try to laugh at your mistakes.  If you stay calm and relaxed and shrug off the things that don't really matter, your kids will follow your lead.  
  • Give according to your means.  One surefire way to holiday stress is to spread yourself too thin financially.  Don't put yourself at risk to put a few more baubles under the tree!  Cut back and be honest with yourself.  Spending every cent you have will give your kids the impression that things are more important than people or quality time.  Plus, you won't have anything set aside for unexpected expenses, like an ill-timed slide on icy roads.  
  • Check your ego, and your temper, at the door.  Compromise.  Communicate with your spouse.  Don't hold grudges.  These are rules we should live by all year, but take this time to refresh them.  Do you really want your kids to remember picking out the tree as the time Mommy and Daddy argued every year?  
  • Don't be afraid to start a new tradition.  Make the holidays work for your family.  That might mean letting go of old expectations or trying something completely new.  Just don't try to fit your family into a preconceived mold, or you'll get a lot of friction.  
  • Talk about the meaning of the holidays your family celebrates.  Just going to a church or synagogue isn't going to magically give meaning to the season.  You have to talk to your kids.  Make it a part of your celebration.  Don't let the meaning of the holiday become a point to check off the calendar on the way to presents.  
  • Make time for quality time.  Take your kids sledding.  Build a snowman.  Sit with them and drink hot chocolate or cider.  Read holiday books aloud to the family.  Build a gingerbread house with a theme your kids are interested in.  Just don't let the days leading up to the holidays fly past in a blur of work, shopping and stress.  Giving homemade gifts, like candies or cookies, will give you a chance to get in the kitchen with your kids.  Make time for quality time; it is those moments your kids will cherish as they grow.  

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