Food! We love it!
Especially during the holidays, we look forward to the delectable legacy of Grandmom’s homemade Pound Cake, Aunt Suzie’s mashed potatoes and Uncle Ron’s mouthwatering deep fried turkey! And if we can have it all as well as eat it, we are among the most fortunate. Not wanting to put a damper on the delight of chomping down on a crisp turkey wing, give some consideration for those among you who are not able to partake in a similar fashion. Be informed. Ask. Prepare ahead of time. Request parents to bring an alternative meal if necessary. Just be sure there’s an understanding prior to the meal. It may be less stressful for young children to eat ahead of the adults if they require feeding or supervision. That allows a more relaxing meal time for adults and children. Every situation is different, so the communication beforehand is vital.
- Gift giving is complicated on so many levels. Take a mix of those who cannot afford gifts for everyone at the celebration; those who prefer to pick and choose who will and will not receive a gift; those who give wonderful gifts to all; and those whose needs require special attention when purchasing a gift. Finally, those who do not have a clue how to express appreciation regardless of their affinity for the gift can create a real conundrum! Here are some suggestions:
- Voice a preference that NO GIFTS be exchanged (this doesn’t usually work).
- Request gifts be reserved for children 18 years and under.
- Plan a gift exchange game and limit the cost to $5-$10. (One gift per person)
- Plan a whacky fun gift exchange game at no more than $10 per gift.
- Plan a whacky fun gift exchange using white elephant gifts from your home at $0 cost.
- Request that all gifts be made by the giver incurring little cost to anyone.
- Research best loved childhood gifts and books on EBay. They are often inexpensive and are lovingly received.
- Regardless of a person’s mental or physical challenges, the holidays offer a variety of activities that can be adapted to meet their needs. Here are a few ideas that can be adapted to any holiday celebration:
- Decorating – Children love to make colorful decorations and decide where to place them. With help, almost all children can choose colors, placement and types of decorations to include.
- Baking and Cooking – No matter the age, little kids and big love to stir the batter and lick the spoon.
- Making Gifts – I treasure the pictures my children have drawn, the clay creations and special ornaments I still hang on the tree every year. If a child lacks the dexterity to use scissors, allow them to use paste or guide their hands to place stickers on a page. The point is to allow them to be a giver.
- Making Cards – This is a great activity for all ages. Gather construction paper or scrapbook pages, cut pictures from magazines, add stickers, tiny posies or little jewels to make their card stand out.
- Shopping – Allow your child to earn equity to barter for a gift for their sibling, parent or favorite person. Teaching them to give to a charitable gift drive is also a good beginning to generosity.
- Choosing menu items – This is easy. Be prepared for some mac n’ cheese on the menu.
- Caroling – Just go for it! So much fun whether one can carry a tune or just smile brightly.
- Writing a poem or choosing one to share – You may be amazed by the thoughts that run through a children’s mind. They are creative and inspirational.
- Telling a story – Whether the story is made up or one from a storybook, who doesn’t like to hear a story?
- Playing an instrument or singing – This is not reserved for one who is a virtuoso. In fact, a variety show would provide a lot of after-dinner entertainment.
- Planning a game – This is a good way to involve the whole family and learn the games your kids love. I can still remember my dad getting down on the floor playing marbles and jacks with us.
- Assisting with choices of activities – Who knows better than children how to play. Encourage their imagination to plan some activities to add to family memories.
- Being photographer for the day – A great way to give the antsy teen a purpose and also collect digital family history.
- Making a memory book – Put those photographs and memorabilia together in a memory book.
- Caring for others – Jennifer loves her grandmom and will feel especially honored to sit with her and be her best companion.
- Saying a prayer – Kids are more natural, less verbose and much, much more sincere (in my opinion), so why not ask them to say the blessing.
Things I Learned from My Mom
- My mother loved Christmas and all the holidays! This is the model she showed to me:
- Welcome everyone!
- Provide a warm, bright and loving atmosphere.
- A sense of humor is your best decoration.
- People are more important than things. If things get broken, don’t break the heart of the person who caused the mishap.
- If it’s not nice, don’t say it.
- It’s not about food and gifts, it’s about love, laughter and good cheer!
- Keep the generous, merciful spirit of the special days of your life EVERY day of your life.