Instead of Burning Questions this month, I wanted to share my “Twelve Thoughts for Christmas.” Just twelve little things to keep during the hustle and bustle of this holiday season. –xJo


1. EXPECTATIONS – keep them realistic so that you can enjoy celebrating Christmas and just be yourself. Some people try to keep up an act of pretense around relatives or friends, but it is more important to be YOU than someone else’s idea of who you are.

2. GRATITUDE – being grateful for what you have as a family is important. Make sure your children feel gratitude as well. Before opening presents this holiday season, come together as a family, donate toys to Toys For Tots, volunteer serving a holiday meal at a local shelter, or donate your gently used clothes to a local family charity. Christmas may be a season of getting, but it’s also a season of giving.

3. TOGETHERNESS – is to feel whole as a family creating rituals and memories that last a lifetime. This season of extended family time can bring about meltdowns in children (and adults!), so be sure that between all the visiting, guests and more formal occasions, you remember to have spend some time with your immediate family. Take it slowly one morning, stay in pajamas extra long. Cuddle up on the couch and read a story Christmas Eve morning or during one of the post-Christmas mornings. Be intuitive to your feelings as well as those of your partner and children.

4. MEET & GREET – treat this Christmas like it is your first. Or, better yet, think about it through the eyes of your child. The excitement, anticipation (and maybe even a little bit of the fear of Santa). Greet Christmas morning with enthusiasm. It’s a little different than your routine day, so maybe the rules don’t have to be as strict this morning, or maybe instead of eating breakfast first, you all open presents first — and don’t worry as much if a candy cane gets eaten before noon.

5. FEEL – the spirit of Christmas, the love between you all, the being and accepting of one another. Tell each other how you feel. Whilst sitting at the breakfast table, go around and have everyone say what they love about the person sitting next to them, across the table, etc. and have them name something nice that person has done for them this year.

6. REST & RELAX – with the stress and anticipation of everything leading up to the season, it is important that you all have some down time. Spend a day hanging out as a family, watching TV, reading books, and playing in the snow. Keep it calm and keep it mellow. Your body and mind will thank you for it?

7. RESPECT – if you, your partner or your children have made decisions as to how they will spend their holiday time off (not doing chores/repairs around the house, at a friend’s two days in a row, at the mall …) respect their choices up to a point. You may not agree with them, but remember, it’s their vacation time as well and everyone deserves a little bit of a break from their daily routine.

8. LISTEN – when someone is talking to you or conveying how they feel. Really take the time to listen and understand their situation. People use the holiday season to reach out when they need support or understanding. Be sure to listen to what friends and family are telling you (everything from little family updates to personal confidences) and let them know you are always there for them.

9. ROUTINE – yes, the holidays and vacation time offer a bit of a reprieve from routines, but remember it doesn’t mean you should throw them out the window completely – especially the children’s routine. Children crave the structure, and, though they like to hear when rules are bent, going days without a bedtime or endless amounts of candy, or hours in front of the TV will not do them any good. Let them know when you are giving them a break from a little bit of the daily routine (a later bedtime, for instance) but make sure to keep it as consistent as possible. That way, it will be much easier to plow back into it full-force in the New Year.

10. REMEMBER – everyone has lost a loved one or has someone in their extended family/friends who isn’t well. Be sure to honor those people during this time of year. Tell your children stories about their grandmother at Christmas time (perhaps even make a special dinner she used to make). Send holiday get-well cards to an ailing family member. Be sure to keep those you’ve lost in your family’s heart and honor their spirit during the holidays.

11. RESOLVE – any old or pending conflicts should be resolved before the New Year. Start 2010 off with a fresh slate. Forgive and forget and move on. Talk it out, be accepting. Ring in the New Year with as little baggage as possible.

12. YOURSELF – don’t forget about you. Take the time out for a date night with your partner or a few hours of time for yourself. Go to a movie, get a manicure, spend an hour at the bookstore, meet up with an old friend for coffee, take a long bath. Remember who you are.

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