Rules to live by for the Holiday season

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Eat drink and be merry:

I have no problem with the eating and drinking part. Got that down to a cookie filled, red wine flowing science. It’s the whole “merry” part of holiday entertaining. It’s tough to be merry when your pants are tight, your kids are hopped up on sugar and people turn into these alien beings programmed to run around the mall and take other people out to get the last iPad in aquamarine blue. But this year I vow to try by wearing stretch pants (as long as they are not paired with a festive reindeer sweater-rule #2?), smiling at people in mall line ups and reminding myself it’s about the children.

Be kind to your fellow man or thou shalt not run over old ladies in mall parking lots:

Really I saw this happen last Christmas. Someone was rushing for a parking spot and almost ran over an elderly lady who was walking towards the mall. Now I don’t know about you but I think there is a special down below for those who take out old people at Christmas time. Yes, we are all hurrying this time of year as time seems to speed up and to-do lists seem to expand but killing thy fellow man probably won’t win you any brownie points with the big guy. And no I don’t mean Santa.

It is better to give then to receive

Did you ever notice how people rarely give or do something thoughtful unless they get something in return? Not this time of year! The holiday season reminds us to give just for the sake of giving-donating toys to those without, offering time or food to a shelter, and remembering to leave a bigger tip than normal at Starbucks. I tried to pay it forward the other day but judging from the reaction I got, I guess it’s too early. I asked to pay for the person behind me in the line at Tim Hortons and the lady looked at me like I’d asked her if she wouldn’t mind if I got down to my skivvies and did a dance on the hood of my car. I also saw her deliberating with the customer behind me telling her that her order was paid for and she was probably demanding but why? This seems to be the time of year that you can be nice to your fellow man without them wondering if you’re just trying to sell them an upgraded cable package or if you’re shifty. Take advantage of it. It feels good.

Thou shalt not freak out over turkey

I have a confession to make. I have only cooked a whole turkey, ONCE. And I vowed that I wouldn’t do it again. I find the entire process of cooking a turkey intimidating. First there’s the calculations you have to make that are akin to NASA to ensure that it will be cooked on time. At fifteen minutes a pound, in a 350 degree oven, travelling at 100 miles an hour what time do you have to put a 15 pound turkey in to be cooked by 5:00…

Whatever formula I used the year of the turkey (as I like to refer to it) didn’t work. The thing was still mostly raw by 7 pm and I fed the kids hot dogs opting for deli meat over salmonella and put them to bed. Now I use turkey rolls which is  just the breast part of the meat and while I know my parents would probably prefer a turkey and they went to all that work for me over the years I also know my limits. I will not whip up my grandmother’s homemade pumpkin pie recipe and cook a fifty pound bird.

Thou shalt carry hand sanitizer and stay home when you have the flu

Tis the season….to share germs. Use hand sanitizer and wash your hands a lot! And if you do happen to get sick please don’t share the wealth…we spend a lot of time together in closed quarters this time of year- at work, at the mall…and yes there are times when you have to go somewhere but if you don’t and you’re truly sick STAY HOME!

I saw a commercial the other day for a cold and flu medication which had this guy who looked like death and the voice over said, “you have things to do, so take this medication and get on with your day” and then suddenly the same dude is going to work and then on a date and I’m thinking AAAH! You’re still sick! He feels great until the drugs wear off but it doesn’t make him less contagious. And now he’s just infected his entire office and his main squeeze. If you have the flu, adhere to these Christmas safety tips: take a day off, wrap a hot towel around your head (shout out to Ferris Bueller fans) and watch some reality TV, sports or whatever it is you’re into while sipping hot tea and loading up on Vitamin C. Then when you don’t have a fever and aren’t contagious rejoin the rest of the world. The malls aren’t going anywhere and if you really need to shop then online shopping works wonders.

Enjoy the company of friends and neighbours

This the time of the year to be social and while surviving the holidays can be overwhelming as the calendar overflows with engagements just remember that hibernation is coming. Winter is long and many of us hole up into our houses until Spring or wrap ourselves up in layers of clothing until we are unrecognizable, giving each other a quick Michelin man greeting as we tackle our snow covered drive-ways. Human contact, the kind that exists outside of the cyber world is healthy and even helps with managing anxiety just as long as you follow the rule above.

And that’s it. The holiday rules I like to live by. This holiday season try to live by your own rules, or use some of mine if they resonate with you, but remember above all no matter what happens it’s about spending time with those you love and being grateful for what you have…and wearing really stretchy pants. Happy Holidays!

 

About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

 

Long Distance Holidays

I’ve always loved the holidays, the festive clothing and Christmas decorations, the warm drinks, and the time spent with the people I love the most. This year, I’m finding it a little more difficult to get into the holiday spirit. The issue I am having is that my nephew, sister, and brother-in-law, are so far away. They moved to British Columbia a few years ago and will live there while my brother-in-law finishes law school. My fingers are crossed for a move back home and family getaways after that…

Baby E and I checking out toys!

My sisters and I have always been very close, we talk about everything, and spend hours just hanging out. Being a long-distance sister and now aunt is tough, even more so now that the holidays are quickly approaching. I don’t get to personally give them presents that I’ve carefully chosen and I won’t get to share in the festivities and love that make the holiday season special.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) dropping hints to my sister to come home for a little while. I have tried everything and I won’t lie; there have been a couple bribes in there too, including offering to pay for her flight as well as sending her info on the cheapest flights I could find and finally resorting to promising endless diaper changes of my nephew. Guilt tripping, bribing, nothing seems to be working. So we’ve decided to compromise.

We’ve settled on a Skype and pajama date on Christmas morning. The three sisters all have matching onesies and a love for a good cup of coffee. It’s not as good as having my whole family together during the holidays, but I can settle for that.

Do you have far away family relationships? How do you make sure to celebrate special holidays with them?

 

About the Author:

Sandra Barbera is the Social Media Coordinator at Mabel’s Labels. She is an avid traveler and lover of the internet. You can find her on Twitter @sandrabells

The Divorced Family Christmas

Christmas is a sentimental time of the year.  For many divorced parents it’s a painful reminder of the gap between the ideal family life we had wanted and the reality of the strains and severed relationships that are a part of divorce and separation.  Here are some tips on how a parent can cope this time of year:

  1. Make plans for the holidays with your ex well in advance.  If this is not a part of your separation agreement or if this is a difficult topic consider mediation. Children need stability and predictability.  Advance planning helps them get their head around how the holiday will unfold and should reduce any potential anger and anxiety.
  2. Try alternating years so that both parents get the joy of opening gifts on Christmas day.
  3. If your children are travelling with the other parent over the holiday, create a “mock Christmas” to be celebrated like the real thing with all the traditions such as Christmas decorations and a Christmas tree, just held on a different date
  4. If this is the first Christmas you are not together as a family, try creating new traditions so that you don’t experience the absence of one parent while doing all the same ole holiday things.  Ask your children for input.  My kids wanted all new ornaments on the Christmas tree as a “fresh new start” so as to not look sentimentally at the family ornaments from the past.
  5. If this is your first Christmas alone without your children, reach out to your extended family and join their festivities.  You should have supportive people around you. You could volunteer at a shelter or visit friends, basically anything is better than being home alone and sad.
  6. You can’t win a child’s love with material objects.  Yes, it’s gratifying to see the look of joy on your child’s face as they open gifts, but don’t try to outdo or compensate/apologize with gifts.
  7. It’s generally not recommended that you include your new partner in the first family Christmas since the divorce/separation.   If you are in a serious relationship, ask you children how they would feel if you invited your new friend over for some part of the day.   Their reaction will give you your answer.

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

 

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