It’s that time of the year that as children we awaited excitedly, but as adults we somewhat dread it: the holidays. It is a wonderful time of celebrations AND a time for great stress over whose house to gather and how much money to spend. We promise ourselves every year that this time will be different, only to make the same mistakes again and then some. The biggest mistake? To try and please everyone but yourself. The result is that you end up feeling depleted instead of grateful for what you have and the ones you love. If you’re ready this year to make good on your promise of having more appreciation in your holiday take a look at these ideas for a meaningful family holiday:
7 Tips for a Meaningful Family Holiday
- Find Your Own Meaning of the Holidays: We grow up with a handed-down notion of what the holidays are supposed to be.Traditions are followed and never questioned. Now you have your own family so how about making new traditions with them. If you have children allow them to give their input on what they like about the holidays. Share your memories to create new ones by doing more of what makes everyone happy.
- Make a Plan: All good ideas start with a plan. If you wait until the last minute you will just repeat last year’s path. Set a time to discuss with your partner personal expectations vs. family expectations. The idea is not to blow off everyone. Set your limit to what you are willing to do with your time and communicate ahead. Avoid surprises when family expects you for dinner every night from Thanksgiving to New Year.
- Take Care of Yourself: For all the work you will put into having a meaningful family holiday you deserve a break. Assign time for attending to your needs. Take that longer bath, sleep-in another hour, be lazy and order take-out. You preferred way of recharging could be among your loved ones or some alone time. The important part is to do it your way
- Express Your Gratitude for Each Other out Loud: That can be done as a “holiday game” of saying a positive thing about another person before desert or as a couple’s enrichment exercise of expressing their admiration for each other.
- Be Intentional in Your Gift Giving: This a cliché statement, but it’s so true: it’s not about the money! Giving a gift is not about you or how much you can afford. It is about the person receiving it and realizing you “get them”. You and them will get the year-long satisfaction that you communicated love and affection through a gift.
- Make Your Own Cards: As beautiful as the Hallmark cards are they’re also impersonal. Your time and love put into a handmade card can communicate more than words can convey. Express what you’re thankful for about the other person and what you wish for the future. You will also be teaching your children that putting effort into the gift is more important than what it costs.
- Volunteer: Making a holiday meaningful can include giving to others less fortunate. You can spend time visiting elders, serve a hot lunch at Thanksgiving or donate goods to a family in need. Your children will benefit from learning that not everything that matters in life comes in pretty packages..About the AuthorPatricia Cochran is a marriage counselor with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She is passionate about helping couples and families to feel connected again. In her spare time, she is busy with her toddler and enjoying friends and family time