It’s (supposed to be) the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
We’re gliding to the end of December and the end of 2022 like a toboggan swooshing down a steep hill…”hang onnnn … aiiieeeee”…
So how are you, with all of the everything that is happening in your particular world of being? Depending on your traditions, faith, rituals, and present-day state of relationships, it may be that you are being pulled and pushed in many directions.
Big exhale. (The super result from a big exhale is that an inhale automatically occurs. It’s a complete air exchange which rejuvenates the body.)
Pressure-ful or Peace-ful?
I remember this time of year when my children were younger and there were occasions when it was a more pressure-full, not always peaceful, time of year.
The invitation (or challenge) to be with many people, in many different settings may be what causes the enjoyment of this time of year to be less, or not realized.
Crazy that we’re experiencing this, so soon after our angst of the past two years and the limits of a pandemic causing us to NOT be able to be with all of those people, in the many different settings!
Regardless, how can you and your family bring the joy you wish to experience into a lived-occurrence, keeping in mind the precious little time you may have available?
Two evidenced-based perspectives come to mind:
- one is that planning alone contributes to more limiting, individual brain-based bias with less brainstorming, creativity and engagement by others, and
- interactive play is like super-food for the brain and along with many other gains, it stimulates connection, belonging and contributes to an overall sense of having fun.
Planning Together and Playing Together
Sooo, planning together and playing together are the key ingredients to having a successful time together over the holidays! When you, as the parent(s) or caregiver(s) are currently working outside the home, inside the home, studying, managing childcare, relationships within a child’s school, after school activities, family commitments, caring for pets, trying to pay bills, buying groceries, plus, Plus, PLUS…it can feel overwhelming, and you may question how to make these key ingredients occur.
Let’s revisit the idea of Family Meetings. Start here to bring planning together and playing together as a focus.
A Family Meeting can occur anytime that fits within your family’s schedule, with all family members present. It might be at a separate time after dinner, before breakfast on a weekend, when driving to an event, during mealtime, or even during bath time (those of you with teens may receive objections to the last suggestion, haha!). It’s best to have all the screens turned off. You can bring some plasticine or paper and markers for family members to be creative with during the meeting.
Family Meeting Agenda
In creating an outline or meeting agenda to promote planning together and playing together, consider these questions to bring forward to stimulate the discussion, allowing each person to express themselves, without their input being judged.
- Who are three people I would really like to visit during the holidays?
- How much time do I want to spend travelling?
- How many different homes would I like to travel to during the holidays?
- How many days of having company or sleepover company is manageable for me?
- What outside activity am I looking forward to doing with my family?
- What outside activity am I looking forward to doing with friends or neighbours?
- What game or activity do I want to play inside with my family?
- What game or activity do I want to play inside with friends or neighbours?
By bringing these questions to each member of the family for their own reflection and input, we are moving into a group activity which removes the assumption and perception of how the holidays may unfold.
Write down every family member’s responses. Notice where there are similar responses. Tally up. Open up a discussion linking the time spent travelled preference with the number of people to visit. Consider how these two areas of criteria can be brought closer into concluding how many people and who will be visited within the preferred length of travel time.
Encourage the back and forth questioning and solution-seeking which finesses the consensus decision making and buy-in from all members. Not everyone will get entirely what they proposed. They did, however, get a voice and an opportunity to participate.
Expectations and Limits
Are you getting a bit twitchy, allowing the mind to race ahead and worry that some people may not be visited over the holidays? This stage may require some letting go of expectations, accepting limits which may contribute to a more enjoyable holiday, and a whole other set of questions for family members inquiring:
- “Would you prefer a phone visit, Messenger/Skype or Zoom (or other platform) call since we won’t be travelling to visit them, or have them over for a visit?
- “What game would you like to play or lead during the phone or internet call? (There are many ways to play games in a virtual gathering. Children who are already researching on the internet can find a game to bring to the online holiday gathering.)
An added benefit to the Family Meeting process of planning together and playing together is that the to-do list may be reduced. Keep in mind that outside or commercialized pressures of what should be occurring during this time of year are based on someone else’s perception, and you have the ability to discern what you want to immerse yourself and your family within.
Finally, I’d like to offer a way to bring yourself a bit of settling, releasing the tenseness and noticing how being calm feels.
You might choose to open your Family Meeting with this activity, or close it, or offer it each night when you’re saying good night to your children, or when you are huddled together savouring a moment of togetherness during the holidays.
- Taking turns to offer to one another, use your hands to sweep back and forth across the back of another family member. Try to not talk to them, just move your hands on their back.
- Notice how you can match your breathing in and out with how you move your hands slowly across their back.
- Begin to draw an image on their back of something related to the holidays which has meaning for you.
- Keep noticing how your breath is going in and out and how it feels in your body when you are tracing the images.
- Trace the letters of their name on their back.
- Trace words which you hope for them on their back.
- Keep the breath flowing in and out, slowly.
- Be aware of the body and the changes within as the breath comes in and out of the body, and from the calming action of sweeping hands across a back.
Allow opportunity for each family member to give this gift and to receive this gift.
However you celebrate this time of year, my wish for you is;
“May you be safe.
May you be well.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you live in peace.”