By Darryl Sollerh & Leslie King
With Thanksgiving behind us, and the holiday season now upon us, the home-stretch of year can feel more like an obstacle course than happy or merry, with moms and dads forced to economize, despite their desire to make this year's celebration brighter than the last.
And as if that weren't all enough, the holidays also have a way of bringing up a host of memories -- some perhaps joyful, some perhaps filled with disappointment -- all mixing together in ways that can make these last weeks feel like a wistful, bittersweet journey for many moms and dads.
Quite simply, it can be an emotionally charged time, raising hopes if not expectations, complicated by budgets, colored by memories and hurried by busy schedules.
'Tis the season.
So we would like to share the number-one item on our holiday to-do list this year, one that we will definitely be checking twice, if not every five minutes: to make a special effort to create room in our homes and hearts for a more peaceful season, and place our focus on the little moments that make the holidays truly warm and bright.
Let's face it: the path to a more satisfying holiday season is not down the road of finding the perfect present, or creating the ultimate decor, or cooking up elaborate holiday fare, or making marathon holiday rounds to family and friends; rather, it is in conscientiously slowing down and focusing on creating the mental and emotional space to experience as much inner peace as possible.
Practically speaking, this may mean simplifying your family's holiday plans, from your seasonal activities to the meals you share. Fewer dishes at your holiday table may mean fewer migraines for Mom or Dad, and a lot more relaxation with which to give your kids the best of you rather than your weary leftovers.
For the family obligations that bind (and that can sometimes grind, shall we say?), give yourself some time now to inwardly prepare -- for that hyper critical aunt, or the impossibly grumpy cousin, or that nagging neighbor. By being a little more rested and relaxed yourself, you will have a far better chance to cope with whatever these holidays serve up.
All of us can bring so much to the holidays that only with a conscientious effort can we avoid falling prey to the stresses that steal joy and exhaust moms, dads and their kids to the point that they can miss out the very kinds of moments that this season was meant to embrace and celebrate.
With that in mind, may you and your family find peace in this season, and thereby encourage others, by your example, to find peace in theirs, too.
Darryl Sollerh is a writer, tutor and co-author of two parenting Guides with Leslie King, including "STOP YELLING, START LISTENING - Understanding Your Middle School Child: a Compassionate, Practical Guide for Moms and Dads."
Leslie King, LCSW, has been the Crossroads' School counselor for 20 years while maintaining a private practice, recently co-authoring "How to be the Loving, Wise Parent You want to Be...Even with Your Teenager!" with Darryl Sollerh (TheDancingParent.com).
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