’Tis the season! Many holidays are right around the corner. Which ones does your family look forward to most? St. Nick’s Day? Kwanzaa? Hanukkah? Solstice? Christmas? New Year? Holidays can bring families closer together as they look forward to, plan, and work together to create a celebration. During times of family stress, they can provide shelter and predictability.
Rituals don’t need to be complex to be meaningful. Look closely at your current customs to see what’s working and what can be improved. Consider:
ü Place – Where do your celebrations take place? Having a safe, nurturing, predictable place can add meaning to your ritual. To see this, ask your child what he would think if Thanksgiving were no longer held at his grandparents’ home. You may be surprised about how that sense of place gives children a sense of belonging and predictability.
ü Food – Which foods are associated with your holidays or occasions? How can the dietary needs of all be met? Asking everyone to bring a dish to share not only cuts down on the workload of the host but assures that all will have something that meets their dietary needs.
ü People – Think of ways to encourage people of different generations and families to talk and share time together. And plan a way to honor the absence of someone, whether that person is deployed for a military assignment, is sick, or has died.
ü Cultural connections – Many families include recipes, rituals, songs, and activities from their ancestral roots. Whether a family eats Indian curry, Mexican tamales, or Scandinavian lutefisk, these connections anchor the family to their cultural heritage.
ü Decorations – The way you decorate adds meaning to the holiday and are visual symbols of what’s important.
ü Roles – Get everyone involved in helping. Even young children can create decorations or help with setting the table, wrapping gifts, or suggesting items for the menu.
ü Activities – Which activities mean a lot to you and your kids? Some families play card or board games on holidays. Some go for walks through the neighborhood. Some volunteer together. Find activities that get people connecting, laughing, and enjoying being with each other.
Holidays are great opportunities for families to come together and enjoy each other’s company. And though it might mean some extra planning, it is possible for every family member to be involved and have a good time. Make sure to include family members of all ages in your plans, and your celebration will be a positive experience for all.
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Community Coalition for Healthy Youth
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