Holidays and the Family

Once again the holiday season is upon us.  Although this "tis the season to be jolly," it is easy to become consumed with trying to make our version of the perfect holiday and spending too much time and energy buying the perfect gifts.  We tend to lose the spirit and the meaning of the season and often forget to sit back and enjoy the time with our family and loved ones.  For families who have lost a loved one this year, or families of divorce, the holidays can be especially difficult and stressful. It's important to keep in mind that the holiday season should be a time to take a break from everyday work and life responsibilities and focus on the personal meaning of the event by building new traditions and memories with family and friends. 

Here are a few suggestions of how to make this a peaceful, relaxing, and memorable holiday season:

Don't get caught up in making everything perfect and don't take the fun out of it.

It's easy to get caught up trying to make everything turn out to be the "perfect holiday." Yet rushing around and staying busy can soon become a chore where all the fun is taken out of the event.

Take time to enjoy the process as a family.

Let your kids help put up lights, decorate the tree, bake cookies, call relatives, etc….these are activities they will enjoy and remember.

Start new traditions with your family or renew old family traditions that you enjoyed as a child….such as going to see holiday lights together, watching favorite holiday movies, or looking at old family photos, etc.

Remember the most precious gift parents can give their children is the gift of time.  For many people, the most lasting memories of the holidays are things done together.  Instead of buying everything, families can spend time together making holiday cards or gifts, or wrapping presents. Parents can even give a lasting gift of time in the form of coupons for particular times or events redeemable throughout the year.

Remember gifts are not a substitute for attention or affection.  Sometimes parents use gifts to compensate for lack of time spent with their children during the year.  Kids will have long-lasting memories of family time playing board games versus expensive video games.

Use the holiday season to cultivate the joy of giving.

Projects such as donating to a charity can be a yearly family tradition. Collecting toys or warm clothes for needy families or delivering holiday meals for people who are sick or alone are some examples of activities that you can do together as a family to teach your kids the value that giving is better than receiving.

For families who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be especially painful.

It is important to acknowledge the loss and changes to your family.  Take time to talk about the person and
positive memories and happy times that were shared together. Consider starting a new tradition as a way 
to honor that person's memory.

For families who are dealing with divorce situations, communication and consistency is important for your children to enjoy the holidays.

Be careful not to use elaborate gifts as a way to compete for your children's love. Don't try to outdo the other 
parent with gifts or special events for the holidays. Communication with your ex-spouse is important to 
make sure that the children have a positive experience at both houses and are able to spend quality time
with both parents during the holiday vacation.

Don't forget to make New Year's resolutions as a family.

Set goals for the upcoming year to work on as a family or as an individual.

Above all, have a safe and supportive holiday season.

Happy Holidays
Outreach Concern

Information has been compiled from various educational
and counseling resources