The holidays already?!!

The holidays are quickly approaching…already!! Why do we always say this?  It is the same date every year, should not be a surprise there, right?  Adults don’t seem ready but the kids sure are!!! Youths expect this time of year months ahead of time.  Sometimes it would be nice for adults to feel more like a kid to feel that joy, that mystery, that wonderful blanket of comfort tuck you in the mystical wonder for several weeks.

That said, I am not a kid but thank goodness I have the next best thing…I am privileged to be speaking to kids/teens every day of the year on just about every topic.

The holidays is a topic youths of all ages call about and one that hits home with parents as well is often…”It’s coming so fast…I don’t know if I’m ready!”  Well, we hear enough about the holiday stress and we often lose sight of what the holidays really should be: fun, joyful, and a little bit of enchantment.

How can we get into that holiday spirit? A great way is to have everyone participate in the holiday preparations which allow everyone to be involved and engaged.  For instance, we know that there is often baking, cleaning up to do and decorating.  Why should this just be the adults /parents responsibility?  Okay, so now the perfectionist adult may have to bite their tongue now and then and allow everyone to take part.  So what if a ribbon is not perfectly set, who cares if a pillow is not centered…they are supposed to be “throw pillows” right?

How about seeing the end of December, the birth of a new season “winter” and that includes preparation for weather, outings, hosting parties and enjoying family fun.  Rather than focussing on ONE day, how about centering on this season.  If the word holiday gives you a panic attack, change it to winter fest.  Festivals do not last simply one day…and they are enjoyed by May for weeks…now that sounds a bit less daunting, doesn’t it?  Knowing that you have more than ONE day to make it all right.

 

Here are some ideas to expect a Seasonal mood:

–        Looking forward to something fun helps to get caught up in good feelings

–        When you feel happy and excited, you can actually create a good experience.

–        It makes it easier for positive emotions to build and grow and that’s one reason the holiday spirit can be so contagious.

–        So what mood do you want to create this holiday?  Do you want it to be fun, peace and love or giving and sharing?

Now how are you going to make it happen?

–        Think about activities that make people laugh like picking a name in a hat and each family member (or your group of friends) has to give a holiday token.  Notice I said token…not gift.  It can be something you made, a special scarf of yours that your friend likes and you are ready to give it to her, it could also be promising to do certain chores at home, offering to give a friend a manicure or doing her braids; for the guys out there, it can be offering to coach someone in a sport, skating.  It helps if you are a group to brainstorm different ideas as well and that puts everyone in the seasonal mood.

–        Take part in preparing the home for the season too.  Rather than dwell on how it sucks to clean up your bedroom, why not put on some favourite music to get it done?

–        Happiness is contagious…just think about how you feel when you see the little guys so excited during this time of year…why stop when you get older.

–        Brainstorm with your friends /family going to a shelter to sing some songs or help out to serve meals.  There is no better feeling you feel your heart when you give in these situations…really!

Here are a few ideas I have told youths during this time of year: 

–        A young teen called wondering what she could give her family this year. She felt she was old enough and had this urge to give back.  We talked about whether she wanted to buy gifts or make them.  She said she had $20.00 for the whole family (2 sisters, one baby brother and her parents).

“Wow!” I said, “You have a lot more than you realize…$4. Per person and you can combine your parents and make it $8 for them or if your siblings gifts end up costing less…well there you go more for your parents!”  After a long talk, she decided she was going to make photo gifts… purchasing frames for her parents and making frames for her siblings. The money would go for enlarging some favourite photos she had of special moments with family members.  How cool is that?! 

–        One child called because he did not know if he was going to see his dad this holiday season because he was in the military and may not be able to make it home on time.  We talked about his family members, extended family and he was very close to his uncle, (dad’s older brother) and how he could arrange ahead of time, some fun things to do with him.  If his dad was coming later, maybe he and the family could arrange to have second holiday feast and gathering when he got home.  “I bet your dad would really appreciate experiencing that and not feel as if he missed that day.” 

Sometimes I get calls from youths whose parents are working throughout the holidays and barely any extra time to spend with the children.  

–        One girl called wondering how she could spruce up her home without it costing anything and doing something so she and her younger siblings whom she was babysitting could have some fun.  I suggested she check out the malls that are selling trees and pick up the fallen branches on the ground…put together, you can create lots of nice decorations. Popcorn and cranberries are beautiful and inexpensive decorations! Have the siblings create decorations as well.  Going to the dollar store and getting a few items if you can afford this.  But, even more fun, if she could take a few days with her siblings and make some holiday gifts to give each other and their parents.  The biggest gift to her parents would surely be her organizing this time and creating a holiday mood that may be contagious. 

Tips for parents:

–        Develop traditions by creating activities that are special to your family.  That can consist of holiday meals created from parents’ childhood recipes.  Traditions can be preparing the home for the holidays as well, making it special and not a chore.

–        Keep your plans within your resources. It can become double duty for parents…delegate and accept nice and not best from your family.  If you do it all, chances are you may be short tempered with the family…

–        Be sensitive to your children’s wishes.  Communicate with your child how the time off school will be spent. Often we get calls from youths who are bored…plan activities ahead of time.

–        Try to communicate with your teenager and discuss how they want to spend the holidays…encourage them to plan things ahead of time and share your plans too. Often when teens get older, parents may feel they don’t want to take part and that could be far from the truth…everyone wants to feel included.

 

Make connections: this time of year is a great time to reconnect with family and friends…Can’t afford big feasts…pot luck is even more fun! The importance is having a place to gather.  Your gift is offering your home so this can happen.    Volunteering at a local charity with your children is a great way to teach your kids about the value of giving.  Inviting a neighbour over for tea if you know they are alone.

–        Help your children understand the value and the meaning of the holidays.  For some it may be religious, share that with your children; it may be a sharing experience, offer your child opportunities to share; if it means more family gatherings, give your children roles in hosting these gatherings

–        If you have teens and there will be parties, talk about drinking and what your expectations are.

–        Be available to do some car duty sometimes but set limits so you can relax too.

–        Have fun yourself, parents!  Don’t expect perfection …just has fun.

Tips for kids and teens:

–        Plan, plan and plan some more.  If you have some image of what the holidays should look like or what you are hoping for…talk about that with your parents.

–        If you want to get together with some friends, this has to be planned before the holidays because chances are; your friends have plans too.

–        Lots of fun can be had just doing fun winter activities for ALL ages, not everyone can get to snowboard or downhill ski but sliding; skating or making a fort can be a blast.

–        No snow this time,  just means dressing warm and skateboarding, roller blading or finding indoor areas to rollerblade, or why not try out bowling!  Call to check with days or times there are reduced rates  at some of these locations.

–        Board games are often only brought out at parties and the holidays…why not choose 2 or 3 board games that will become your holiday games.  You’re allowed to tell your parents that you prefer different ones now if you feel you’ve outgrown one or two.

–        Don’t’ worry so much about giving gifts, instead give of yourself and write in a homemade decorative card what you will do the help with chores, teach a sibling something, etc.

I could go on but I think you get the gist of what I am trying to convey.  This year, I decided to have family over for a late dinner December 24th.  I’m going to make sure beddings are ready so they can sleep over if they’re too tired to drive home.  I even am dusting off my vinyl records to play some 70’s music.

I will be working the following day, Dec. 25th.  I can’t wait to talk to kids and teens on that day and share with them my winter fest mood.  And if theirs is not so upbeat, I’ll be there to listen, comfort and offer some insights to lighten their mood.   Happy winter fest!!

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, 2012/11/28

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