Holiday Survival Guide: 5 Traditions to Start This Season
Leading Emotional Dynamics expert, Erik Fisher, Ph.D., aka Dr. E…, has been changing the lives of children, teens and adults for two decades. As a psychologist, media consultant and author, his unique and creative approach to his work has earned him the respect and accolades of his clientele, his colleagues, and the media. On the radio, he has been providing interviews for more than 15 years on stations across North America and has been interviewed for countless print articles in magazines, from Parents to Cosmopolitan, and newspapers across the country from The Atlanta Constitution to the Chicago Tribune the the L.A. Times. Dr. E… has two published books, The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With and The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict: Understanding Emotions and Power Struggles and proposals for three book concepts. As he says, "Life happens for us, not to us, and understanding that is the key to our own empowerment."
- What has everyone been up to all year? Everyone can anonymously write down their favorite memory from the past year and family members can guess who each memory belongs to.
- Get everyone up and moving with charades! Add a fun holiday twist by only acting out scenes from holiday movies.
- Break out the photo albums! Turn it into a game by asking younger family members to identify the people in pictures. And, the older generations can share stories based on the pictures.
- Puzzles and memory games are always a great simple group activity. You can even prepare a holiday-themed memory game by printing out pictures of holiday items such as snow, wreaths and gifts.
Here come the holidays. Are you ready? The shopping — who wants what??? The kids are off of school – what are we going to do with them??? The family struggles – who do we visit with??? Where to go??? How many cards do we send this year??? Just the thought of this can raise the hair on the back of one’s neck. The holidays weren’t meant to be this way…
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire … Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, I made it out of clay … A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight … Jingle Bell time is a swell time to rock the night away … Songs that we may hear or sing around the holidays often mark traditions of the time, and the songs even become part of our holiday traditions.
“Traditions evoke memories, feelings, and often endure throughout our lifetime.”
When I was offered the opportunity to write this article, I wanted to enlist the help of others to share their experiences and memories, and what came out of this, as I reviewed the comments, was the theme of traditions – the idea that year after year the best memories were the ones that people did every year. It wasn’t about giving materialistic gifts, it was about the gift of time and togetherness.
Traditions are often anticipated and promote structure, consistency, and comfort. Traditions don’t involve endless planning, and sometimes traditions arise by accident and can surprise us that they were so enjoyable, so we repeat them again and again.
Cutting down a Christmas tree together; creating art, crafts, and even Christmas cards; playing games or cooking meals together; making gingerbread houses with family and neighbors, decorating the house – the strength of these memories evokes a sense of comfort and happiness. The amount of money spent on tradition doesn’t have to be much and developing traditions can definitely help you survive the holidays.
So, what are YOUR family traditions that help you survive the holidays? If you haven’t created any yet with your family, here are some ideas:
- Set aside time to develop a family schedule for the holidays and include the kids in setting up the schedule. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail.
- Make sure you plan for everyone, no matter the age. Let each person in the family identify something (within reason) that they would like to do over the break and put it in the schedule. Cooking a certain meal together, going to a place or movie, having a friend or family over…
- Give a “second life” to last year’s Christmas presents. Break out last year’s toys, games, and gifts, and reignite play with them. Make a few afternoons or evenings of play and get involved with your kids in play. If the kids enjoy the “revival experience,” their play may give you a little time to get a few more things done. I am sure the land of misfit toys will thank you with a few less refugees.
- Do you have a story or holiday movie(s) that can become part of your holiday traditions? One year we had neighbors over for The Polar Express and made laminated tickets for the kids that said “Believe” on the back with a little bell attached.
- Create time to share “appreciation moments” for each member of the family. Too many times, holidays feel stressful and we forget what the reason for the season is. Let’s bring it back to the importance of love, sharing, and time together. That may be the greatest gift we can offer.
And most importantly, remember to be in the moment and appreciate the season. Don’t feel like you have to survive the holidays. See how you can thrive in the holidays!