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Five Gifts That Put The "Happy" In Holidays

Jude Treder-Wolff writes about
Interpersonal Relationships for
Tis the season of giving, the time to make memories with the people we love. But the degree of pressure to produce perfect dinners and parties and presents is a prescription can leave us more overwhelmed than overjoyed. We can get so caught up in the momentum that we lose the moment. With economic tensions adding to everyone’s worries, now is the best of times to let go of the search for “hot” toys or crazy cool technology to amaze and surprise our loved ones, and look instead for ways to create experiences that make enduring, positive memories with them. Here are five building blocks of experiences that form a child’s ideas about what it means to be happy.
  1. It’s not what we give, it’s howIn the end, what we – and our kids - recall about family holiday time is how it felt to be there. “Busy busy busy.” “Overworked.” “Stretched in a million different directions.” “Resentful.” “Exhausted.” These are the words participants at a professional workplace “Healthier Holidays” seminar used to describe what they remember about their parents’ state of mind over the holidays as they were growing up. As hard-working parents who found themselves trapped in a similar cycle of externally-driven obligation and stress in the name of making their children happy, this exercise helped to reframe and let go of some misery-inducing, ingrained patterns of thinking.
  2. Be there. Consciously choosing where to dedicate our attention requires a combination of knowing our values and our limits. Honoring our own limits saves our energy for fun-with-family-and-friends and enhances our ability to fully engage with what is happening when everyone is together.

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