The holidays tend to sneak up on most people and then the hustle and bustle begins. I remember as a child watching movies where the “hustle and bustle” was actually fun and exciting. Somehow it doesn’t feel as fun and exciting when I watch people do it today. Most people feel behind, overburdened and fatigued. The stress is visible. The moods are harsh. The pace is quick. Where is the Thanksgiving peace?
This year for Thanksgiving, are you expecting company? Or, are you expected to BE the company? Are you going places you and your family enjoy or places you prefer not to go? How can you turn an obligatory visit into a gift for a lonely family member? Are your children going to experience a holiday of love and joy or one filled with conflict and “have to’s”? What will you create? What will you and your children remember? The good news is you are the parent and you get to choose! Since you steer the ship, you can go in any direction you want. So how do you create Thanksgiving peace with your children this year? Here are four tips that might help:
Tip #1: Talk About Options. Ask your children for ideas, opinions and input. Lay everything out on the table and get feedback about preferences for how to spend the holiday. See what you can come up with as a team to meet the varying (and sometimes competing) needs of your family and extended family. Get creative. You just may be surprised at what everyone comes up with!
Tip #2: Don’t Overbook. Many families go to multiple places for Thanksgiving … all in ONE day! Is there any way to break it up over the four day holiday? I know that’s not ideal for everyone, but if children (and adults) are tired and tummies are full, wouldn’t it be better to spread the holiday out over a few days? Keep in mind that this is about quality family time. How do you make it enjoyable and meaningful?
Tip #3: As a family, share what you like most and least about this holiday. See if you can drop some activities that no one cares for and spend more time doing the things that everyone enjoys. If you have competing preferences, maybe you do some favorite activities over Thanksgiving and others at Christmas. The point is that the holiday is about spending valuable family time together in meaningful ways. Don’t waste that precious time fighting over details that won’t matter later. Create Thanksgiving peace.
Tip #4: Focus on Giving. Thanksgiving is all about gratitude. What if we taught our children to be grateful for family, holidays and abundance … even when we may have a grumpy or annoying family member? If we focused on giving joy to others and blessing them with our company (even if we wanted to do something else instead), how would that transform the day? How would that transform us and our children?
Ultimately, my wish for all of our families is peace, quality time, fun, love and great memories. Thanksgiving is not just another dinner. It’s not just another holiday that we tolerate. It’s an experience and a gift we can give to ourselves and others. We never know what next year will bring and who may be missing from our table. Wouldn’t it be great to know that you gave them the gift of Thanksgiving peace?
Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent, an organization devoted to healthy parent-child relationships. She can be reached at 951-240-1407 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.alovingway.com