Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is family centered rather than focused on things and gifts. It is a time to gather with family and enjoy time together. It doesn’t mean that there is no stress or tension but hopefully it can be a time without the pressure set up by the advertising media.
Thanksgiving (and for retailers - much sooner) is the start into the holiday season. I hope you take some time to set your priorities to make this a more family centered and stress-less time. I know it cannot be stress-free but with a few adjustments to your priorities and schedules you can make it a little less stressful. It is hard to keep from getting caught up in the materialistic side of the holidays and all the pressure to make it a ‘perfect’ holiday time. We want to give our children things that will make them happy. We want to see them smile and to watch them as they enjoy the things they have. It is during the Thanksgiving holiday that we are encouraged to be aware of the people in our lives and the things we already have. Children are our most valuable gift and the values we share with them is a gift we give back to them. Taking time to enjoy the treasures you have in your children and reflecting on all the joy they bring to our lives is one way to reduce the stress we encounter during the holiday season. When we realize that we have so much to share with our children, and they with us, we can focus on relationships rather than getting more ‘things’. Time together is a gift that is more precious than anything else you can give your child.
As the nights get darker and we spend more time inside it is a great time of year to do family activities that do not cost a lot of money. Read a story by the fire or by candle light. Build a tent with sheets and use flashlights. Pop some popcorn and look at baby pictures – they love to see pictures of themselves as babies and are intrigued by your baby pictures. Spend a Saturday “on vacation” -- pretend you are out-of-towners and be tourists or just stay home but don’t do chores just fun stuff. Make a family movie or have a puppet show. Build with blocks and read Hans Christian Anderson’s Block City. Play a game. Stay in your jammies and eat breakfast on a quilt (or in bed?!) Just enjoy these little people because they will be big people before you know it!
Change is a part of life and during the holidays some of the changes that have happened during the year are magnified. Some changes are happy and expected – new babies, weddings, significant milestones while other changes are not as enjoyable or unexpected – job changes, illnesses, death of a loved one. Both of these types of change require a transitions and adjustments to family activities. With the addition of two daughter-in-laws and a grandbaby we have had some fun and happy transitions along with some stressful changes due to deaths and family dynamics. We had to adjust several family traditions so that we could be together as a family unit after Joel and Nick got married. There is a need to be flexible so that you can enjoy time together. We have had many changes in our family traditions during the past few years. Curt and I started some new traditions as a couple while we created new traditions, or adjusted them, as a “family” as our sons and their wives started their own traditions. Traditions are a time to celebrate family so it is important to be creative when changes in the family, or schedules, mandate a change in an existing tradition. The important thing is to spend time together. It is a time to cherish existing traditions and to start new ones.
As I watch your children at preschool I am reminded how lucky we are to have the chance to see the world though their eyes. Take some time this month to count your blessings and give thanks for these treasures we call children.