The holidays all come with expectations.
We expect to make and eat lots of great food.
We expect to give and receive gifts.
We expect a certain amount of stress (some more than others) and its consequential fatigue.
We expect the budget to scream a little bit from the weight of all the “necessary” expenditures.
But do we expect to come away with tender loving memories? The holidays are really about being thankful for our blessings. They are about family and friends. We enjoy the holidays so much more when we create an atmosphere from which memories are birthed.
So, what do those memories look like? My recollections bring a picture of my “Grampy” dressed in his holiday vest. It was red plaid. With his thick white hair and happy eyes, he looked so regal. I can still see him carving the turkey at the head of the beautifully decorated dining room table. My dad continued the vest tradition where Grampy left off. Though there were so many great traditions about our family holidays, that one dominates my warmest thoughts.
Funny memories? My dear husband broke a tooth on his mom’s Thanksgiving turkey! It had been left in the oven way too long. She felt so bad about it. But we laughed. Chipping a tooth is no fun but it stayed a humorous memory that she got teased about for years. She was such a good sport (and to set the record straight, a very good cook.)
Oh yes, and in my family it was the Christmas tree that would fall over in the middle of the night. The trunk was crooked and it just didn’t want to stand up! Each morning we’d hear “Oh, no!” and one of my parents would “right” it again, decorations getting shabbier as time went on.
So, think about creating some great family memories!
Sights: Make everything beautiful. A vision of “Christmas” typically includes twinkling lights on an evergreen tree. Add to it candles in the window and on the table, stockings hung over the fireplace “with care” and beautiful wrapped presents.
Engage your family in a series of “decorating moments.” Start the process now, pre-Thanksgiving, and have fun with it till the New Year begins. Decorating doesn’t have to happen in one day. Enjoy it as you string it along.
Sounds: Fill the air with music! Holiday music overflows with thanksgiving and joy. Turn on a radio station that plays continuous holiday songs or pop a CD in the player. Keep your home, and car, filled with the sounds of the season and remember to SING along! Engage your kids in singing the catchiest tunes. Everyone’s welcome. Musical talent not required!
- Smells: Bake, Bake, Bake! Holiday food fills your home with a sweet aroma as you bake desserts and roast the turkey. Fond memories of going to grandma’s house have been built around these delicious smells!
- Touch: Cuddle-time a must! We get so busy that we can forget to spend quality time close together. Everyone needs it: mom, dad, the kids…even the dog! It’s how we get re-charged. Read a storybook together. Snuggly blankets required. Schedule a pajama movie night with a great holiday classic. The menu? Popcorn and hot chocolate, of course.
Team work: Everyone has a part to play. Getting ready for the holidays includes anticipation of good things to come. Everyone should be a part of the preparations. Bake cookies together. Wrap gifts. Dust and pick up “stuff.” Even the littlest tyke can have some kind of job to do – with much praise included. Remember, a two-year old will dust like a two-year old!
Reach Out – who needs you? Your children and spouse need you, of course. Your parents, friends and relatives do, too. But, who else needs you? Is there someone you can think of who has no one at all? What can your family do to show them some love? Teach this giving-spirit to your kids when they’re young and they will reproduce it as adults. The giving spirit is not taught as much as it is “caught”. We all learn by doing.
Embrace the moment. Remember to step back for a moment and appreciate what you have. No matter the struggles and hardships life may bring, there is something you can focus on that says “life is good”. Think on that! And take pictures of these family times for future memories. Make a date with your kids to sit down and put these memories in a scrapbook while they are still fresh!
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