Family Traditions Without the Guilt

Our own childhood memories and our perception of what other families might do during the holidays contribute to holiday-induced parent guilt. Am I doing enough? Am I creating magical memories that my children will cherish forever? Can I ever live up to my mother-in-law's elaborate traditions? My Pintrest board is full of ideas that I'll never ever actually do. We've all been there. Hundreds of years ago, the Catholic church actually banned the celebration of Christmas because of the hype opting instead for a season of reflection. Short of banning the holiday from your household, let's take a step back and enjoy our family and use the days and few short weeks leading up to the end of the year to slow down and reflect. I am hereby releasing you of your holiday parent guilt and giving you permission to: • Say no to a handful of those social invitations and opt instead for an evening in to play a board game or watch a movie together. • Swap the focus from receiving to giving. Beyond reading the original Christian story of God giving his son to the world, read together the origin story of St. Nicholas. He was known for giving secret gifts to those who really needed it--one time freeing three daughters of a merchant from being taken into prostitution by secretly giving money to the family. Concentrate on things people NEED, like St. Nicholas ... who was actually quite a bad-ass known for hitting a man in the face who he disagreed with on a matter of doctrine. (Where does that fall on the naughty or nice list?) Keep the gifts simple and ones of quality over quantity. We all know that kids love the boxes more than the actual gift. Involve them in the giving of gifts process, allowing them to help select and wrap gifts for friends and family. • Keep your traditions to a sustainable, joy-filled level. Are you preparing elaborate feasts for your family of 4 and your children are happy to only eat a bread roll and a bite of chicken? This would rightly cause the most earnest of parents to crumble in distress. During the early years, keep things simple. Simple meals, simple ornaments, simple traditions. And as the kids get older, let them lead on adding one new thing each year. And remember, your mother-in-law had 30 years to build her elaborate traditions one ornament at a time.

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