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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

In honor of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I asked readers to let me know what they are really thankful for this year. A lot of you responded with answers about your health or the health of others, your faith, your freedom, your family, your friends, and your spouse/partner/boyfriend or girlfriend.

Here are a few of the many stories I received:

Steven: “I am thankful that the business my wife and I started on a whim has really taken off. It has allowed us to work together as a team, and it has been great.”

Sally F.: “My grandchildren. They are light and joy and hope.”

Deborah: “I am thankful that my husband has a job because last Thanksgiving he was let go from his job and we struggled for a year to make ends meet. It makes you appreciate the simple things in life, like a roof over your head and food on the table. All the other stuff we wish for is superfluous.”

Sally M.: “This year I published my first book. Writing a book has been a lifelong goal, and at the tender age of 56, I finally did it.”

Paul: “As an adoptee, this year I am thankful that I have after 41 years, found my biological family.”

Patricia: “I am thankful for my eyesight. Blindness runs in my family. A few years ago I lost eyesight in one eye and then the other. Laser surgery was able to save my eyesight. Had I lived a generation earlier, I would now be blind in both eyes.”

Bill: “I am thankful to be becoming a father for the first time at the age of 69. Life itself needs no explanation. January 2011 is the date.”

Barbara: “I am thankful that despite divorce this year, my stepdaughter still wants to spend Thanksgiving with me. As a stepparent it is a fine line between being a parent and not being a parent, but apparently my relationship is valued and I am grateful. I am also grateful my ex-husband is respectful of this relationship.”

Hearing other’s stories always puts things in perspective for me. It is inspiring that even when you are feeling the most down, there are always people who have been in situations as challenging or more challenging than you that have pulled through and triumphed. 

So, what am I thankful for this year? I am also appreciative of my friends and my health, but I am particularly appreciative of my family. We welcomed our younger son into our family earlier this year after having some trouble conceiving and he has brought such joy into our lives. Just one look at his little grin or to hear one of his chuckles makes me fall in love all over again.

I am also thankful for all of you. When I started writing this blog this past spring I did not think anyone would want to read it. I have been amazed at how many people have viewed the site, have offered to contribute to it or to promote it, and have offered advice on how to improve it. I am truly blessed to have so many people supporting and believing in something that I really enjoy doing. 

What are you thankful for this year? Please feel free to post your story in the comments.

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The holidays are when families get together more than any other time during the year. It is also a time for listening to Christmas carols on the radio and for everyone to say “Happy Holidays” whenever they see you.

Dr. Judy Kuriansky, more commonly known as Dr. Judy, is a Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Expert. She has given many families advice about how to survive the holidays peacefully as a radio talk show host for over twenty-two years.

Dr. Judy says families need to agree about whose parents to visit, what gifts to buy, and how to resolve long-standing family conflicts. She agreed to let me interview her for Simple Living Family about this subject. Here is her advice:

Karla: How do you decide which side of the family to visit? How can you make the other side understand and not feel left out?
Dr. Judy: It is really important to take turns. As long as your families are reasonable, they will understand. Also take into consideration what the event is. If it is a year when everybody in your family is coming together from all over the country, make a deal with your partner that the next two holidays will be celebrated with their family.

Karla: I have a much larger family than my husband. How should families decide how much money to spend and who to buy for?
Dr. Judy: First thing a couple needs to do is decide on a budget. If your family is gracious they will understand that you have done your very best on your budget. One thing you can do is buy group gifts. For example, buy a family a game everyone can use or a movie ticket for each of them so they can go together. Think about what they are all interested in. If the family has young children, you could buy them something for the playroom or if they really enjoy spending time outside, you could buy them a nice piece of patio furniture.

Karla: Families are a big bundle of different personalities. What is your advice on how to deal with any holiday drama?
Dr. Judy: Simply put, stay out of it. If you are at the event with your partner, pull them aside and vent to them. Realize that it is inevitable during the holidays to be triggered back to your childhood dramas, so find someone to spill it all out to. If you are not attending the event with your partner, find another neutral party and talk it over with them.

Karla: Do you believe strongly in the mental benefits of exercise and staying physically active? It is awfully cold out and it sometimes can feel like another “thing” you have to do.
Dr. Judy: Nobody should say no to this question, but I have to be practical. If exercise is just another thing you feel you need to do and you do not have the time to do it, do not beat yourself up. You can go running more in January. Or do something small like if you have steps in your house or off your deck, run up and down them a few times. Count carrying all those heavy packages as your exercise.

Karla: What other things do you suggest we do to take care of ourselves?
Dr. Judy: Take the pressure off of yourself. Realize that the holidays are stressful and then deal with it. Start early so you do not have the stress from having to do everything last-minute. Assign tasks to other people. If you have an eight year old, have them help you wrap rather than locking yourself in a room and wrapping all night. Take a hard look at your finances and do not feel guilty about it. If your kids are used to more packages, split things up. For example if you have bought your child an outfit with pants and a shirt put the pants in one box and the shirt in another. Make a game out of it. Put different pieces of their gift in different spots and give them clues where to find them. Instead of a material thing, wrap up something symbolic of what you are going to do. For example, wrap up a picture of a bike if you are going to take them on a bike trip to a mountain five miles away.

Karla: How should you handle competing traditions; those both parents grew up with versus new ones you would like to start with your own children?
Dr. Judy: My belief is that parents should teach their children both traditions. As long as both you and your partner care about passing them on, you should. For example, if one parent is Catholic and one parent is Jewish you should have both a Christmas tree and a menorah. By having both, you are enriching your child’s life. Never let your traditions compete.

Karla: I often say that the holidays are all about the kids. Do you have any advice on how to make the season as joyous as possible for children?
Dr. Judy: Kids need to understand that they are loved and cherished every day. When you say things like, “This is going to be the best time of year,” it really sets up expectations. Try to tone down that kind of speak and spread the goodies out over the entire year.

Karla: As a family, how do you decide what is important to you and kindly decline your other invitations?
Dr. Judy: Decide together about whose needs are the greatest; also about where they want to go and why. One little boy really wanted to go to the zoo and his little sister did not understand why they had to go. It was a great learning experience for her about why it is important to do things that are really important to others.

Karla: When the baking, cooking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, and house cleaning feels completely overwhelming, what do you suggest we do to manage the stress?
Dr. Judy: Cut back. Too many people go overboard this time of year. You do not have to do everything. Things have gotten too complicated. It does not mean you love your family less. Ask family members to help. Negotiate with them about what they can bring, such as a dessert. Tell them if they would be willing to bring a dish, it would be instead of a gift.

Karla: How can you teach your children about the spirit of the holidays rather than let them focus on the material side?
Dr. Judy: Read stories and watch videos about the spirit of the holidays and discuss them afterwards. Ask your children what their expectations are and have a real conversation with them about what they are thinking and feeling. You might be surprised by what their favorite parts of the season really are.

For more advice from Dr. Judy on this topic and many others, please see her website at www.DrJudy.com.

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