There are so many things to accomplish during the holidays. We have to shop for just the right gift for everyone in the family, make travel plans, decorate our homes, cook large meals, and entertain guests.
For many people, our time off during the holidays is more busy and more stressful than our already busy lives. Instead of connecting with our families, we end up running around them. The main thing that seems to be lost in the process is simply being there for our families and loved ones.
How many times have you been to a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner where people said that there was not enough food? Instead of cooking six extra side dishes, why not start a new holiday tradition? Examples include making a movie together, hosting a game night, making an arts and crafts project, or doing a scavenger hunt.
In my article, “Fun Family Activities,” I talk about fun activities that we can do with our families to promote closeness and connectedness, and possible family traditions.
If you get creative, you could think of your own fun family activities that promote family closeness, start family traditions and increase togetherness, or you can just do things for the sake of increasing everyone’s sense of pride and esteem in the family.
Another great holiday tradition is giving back to the community. In my article on mentoring, I go over the benefits of mentoring. In particular, it is a hands-on rewarding type of giving that the whole family can participate in, and it takes no extra time to do. As a form of holiday charity, contacting and registering with Big Brothers Big Sisters is a fantastic way to give back to the community.
However, the most important holiday activity is to make sure you pay attention to the family and loved ones around you. My article, “Are You Really Listening,” talks about the importance of paying close attention and listening to loved ones without judgment in order to break down the barriers and resentments that separate us.
It’s very easy to fall into the habit of interacting with others based on notions or assumptions instead of absorbing the full genuine person themselves. We tend to be waiting for our turn to talk instead of truly listening to what others have to say.
For those of us who are truly, greatly blessed, and have time off from work and/or school during the holidays, we should really take full advantage of this time by being mindful of the people around us, opening our eyes, ears, hearts, and souls to them. Look for their positive, loving, creative, and glorious side.
Good company is what really makes the gathering special. I promise no one will complain that there is not enough food.
Michael Courter is a clinical social worker, family therapist, and entrepreneur in Northern California.