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Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Find Peace during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays

Like most of us, you are grateful for your family and enjoy the wonderful sounds of chatter over a good Thanksgiving meal and gift wrap opening on Christmas. Yet, this year is one of those years that you just want to be left alone, but you have this feeling inside that is stressing you out! You feel obligated to share the holiday with family and friends, because that is what they have come to expect from you. Every year you are praised for your creative cooking, decorating, and crafting, but it all seems to be a bit much. If you are on the fence about celebrating this year, then you will want to consider doing one thing, nothing!

That’s right nothing. There is peace in being still, those who have a faith know this and live by it when they have obstacles that they are facing. They sit quietly for as long as they can, not thinking about what their next move will be, but allowing God to move their spirits. They rely on their God’s will to do what is right not their own. Why worry yourself over the turkey and all the fixings? Why stress about entertaining people, some of which you don’t even like and they don’t like you? Why bother over how to budget for gifts you know you can’t afford?

People tend to act foolish during the holidays just so that someone will say, “Oh thank you I could really use this.” When in reality, they are just being nice and will most likely put it in the back of their closet, sell it on Ebay or Amazon, or rewrap it for a co-worker next year. As some traditionalists will say, “Thanksgiving is a time for people to be thankful for what God has done for them and be grateful for life, love, family and friends...” These are beautiful reasons for families to gather around the table if everyone is in agreement. However, if they are not and have told you in so many ways, “We rather stay home this year.” Then why aren’t you listening? Some hosts take offense to a rejected invite. If a family prefers to celebrate with their own family or not at all, why do they talk negatively behind their backs or to their faces? Could it be that they have some memories of the past and are using those to keep old memories alive, numb past pain, or simply control others?

Bossy family and friends want everyone to gather around their events while rarely accepting invites to other people’s homes. Sometimes they create an event on purpose so that they don’t have to be bothered with their own in-laws. If you are the one receiving the invitation and you rather not go, but are feeling obligated, why stress? Don’t go. What is the worst that could happen; the host will never talk to you again? Well if that is the worst, then do you really need him or her? And if so, consider that a sign to stop needing him or her and become more independent. Make your own food, go out to a restaurant, decorate your own home, buy your own gifts, or do anything that will make you feel at peace about the holiday season, rather than sick about it.

There is too much emphasis placed on this time of year, you know it, I know it and the retailers know it! They are hoping that you will stress, overspend, act crazy, fight, or anything else that will make you feel guilty, obligated, sad, depressed, sympathetic, empathetic, nostalgic, or some other negative feeling that will make you spend more! They have a product for just about every ailment you have and in some cases a person to go along with it like a psychologist. You are doing them a huge favor when you lose your mind about the holidays, because they know that’s more money in their pockets.

Peace is what you need this holiday season and the only way you can get it is by doing the following:

Say no to anything this holiday that will disrupt your sleep, cause ache to your stomach, back, muscles and joints, compromise your spiritual beliefs, and distract you from the things that matter the most to you.

Say yes when you know you don’t have to rely on others, have the money, the time, and overall feel good about any project or event you have in mind. When you assume others will help you on something that may not interest them, you set yourself up for feelings of resentment. So don’t do anything that you know you can’t do by yourself.

Avoid being fake. People know when they aren’t liked, so why invite family and others that you know you personally don’t like. If you can’t invite people to your home accepting them of who they are and genuinely feeling good about their presence, don’t invite anyone. So many people drop the ball on this one particularly people of faith. Do you think that Jesus was insincere about the people he chose to communicate with and forced himself to smile then behaved badly behind their backs? Don’t put yourself in a position that may cause unnecessary strife for you or the other party. Avoid making others who know you don’t like a certain person or couple uncomfortable.

Take the time to explain to the children what you will be doing for the holiday. If you are letting them go on a shopping spree after Christmas say so. Maybe you have a set limit on how many gifts each are receiving or maybe you are relying on someone else to finance the holiday. Whatever your issues, be truthful with your children they are stronger than you realize.

Be brief and honest with relatives about how you feel about the holiday season. You don’t need to give specific details as to why you rather stay home during the holidays, not celebrate at all, or go out of town. A simple statement of, “I would prefer to do something different” is all that is needed. Considering the significant changes in the economy lately and any personal tragedies you may have gone through yourself, anyone with a little common sense can understand. Yet, if there are a few relatives that lack any common sense then you have every reason to distance yourself from them.

Lastly, once you have created the peace you desire, don’t give it away. It is very easy to look around and wish you could do what other people are doing or reflect back on the past. Try to remain steadfast through it all. Doing nothing is peaceful, embrace it. Being quiet and treating the holiday season as just another day is okay. Think of the money you will save, the new perspective on life you will gain, and how happy you will make your family feel by only focusing on what matters -- them. As for the children, you know it’s all about the gifts they could care less about all the other stuff!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

After Halloween Blues: What Parents Need to Know

No matter how much parents try to make Halloween a great holiday, the reality is that there are a lot of things that come out of the holiday before and after that just aren’t very good. How have children really been impacted? What have they witnessed this Halloween? What have you or they learned? How will you make next year better?

The following is a list of issues that may come up after the holiday has passed and some tips on what you should do about them.

The Bad Costume Choice

You tried to meet your child’s needs by giving them what they wanted or in some cases giving them what you could afford, well look out for the stories your child may share with you about the new nicknames they are being called. The fruit costume just didn’t work out, the dollar store costume tore in two before your child reached your neighbor door step, older men thought your daughter was older than she was, and your son’s costume has made your neighbor’s think he is troubled.

Try very hard not to laugh and most of all be empathetic when your children come to you with their experiences. They have to go to school not you; therefore, they will have to face the ridicule. Sometimes flaws on their face or other imperfections like acne, a large nose, or freckles may become even more noticeable to their so-called friends and bullies making them an easy target. You can at least slow the teasing by letting the teacher know what is going on and also increasing your presence before or after school. Schedule a doctor’s appointment for bad acne or scars.

Halloween movies

Sometimes you just can’t seem to do a good enough job shielding them away from all those scary movies and commercials. Some channels will continue to show them after the holiday, so police what they watch and offer other movies from their collection or take them out to a store, flea market, or yard sale to pick new movies.

Halloween assignments

Teachers may have assigned a Halloween assignment that they thought would be fun to do, but some of the class clowns may have took it to another level. Your child may have been the one caught in the cross fire. If your child complains about something that has happened in school related to Halloween, you may want to meet with the teacher, talk with other parents, and provide some suggestions to the administration on how best to celebrate the holiday next year.

Halloween rumors

Your child may be disturbed about something that went on in the haunted house, at an amusement park, over a friend’s house, or something they witnessed while Trick or Treating. When you see they are acting strange, start a conversation about your own Halloween experience as a child. Then indirectly ask them a question about some of the events that took place while they were out. Also, speak with other parents and neighbors to find out what they know or have heard.

Candy issues

Some parents just don’t know what to do with all that candy. The best thing to do is to not allow the children to eat it every day. Keep in mind if you give most toddlers and elementary children candy after dinner, it will excite them and they will have a hard time settling down and going to sleep. Also, if you don’t want to give the family dentist any additional business, put a limit on the candy.

One way you can control the candy is freeze at least half of it. This way it won’t be so easy for your children or dieting adults to dig into it as often. You can also share it with your neighbors who didn’t go Trick or Treating. A final idea would be to take some of it to work with you and put it in candy dishes for your co-workers.

Although Halloween is over, it doesn’t mean that it is over for your children. With careful observation, some patience, and a whole lot of love, your children will be open to share some things that happened on Halloween that you may not have known and you will be better prepared next year.

By Nicholl McGuire

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