Skip Navigation

First Things First Column

First Things First Column The Family Column is a series of articles providing helpful information on families and marriages. It is published every Sunday in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Subscribe to our  Family Column RSS Feed.

Click here to contact Julie Baumgardner


It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! There is a briskness in the air. The malls are bustling with holiday shoppers. Recipes are circulating to help you make the best holiday meals; Pinterest has lots of good gift giving ideas and folks are busy planning their annual holiday gatherings with friends and family. In spite of the hustle and bustle, some people, for one reason or another, might be struggling to get in the spirit of things.According to a 2006 survey conducted for the American Psychological Association, one in four Americans report experiencing loneliness during the holiday season.
Have you ever agreed as a couple not to buy each other Christmas gifts? Yet, when Christmas day arrived, one of you (usually the wife) actually bought a little something because it wouldn't be Christmas without being able to give at least one gift to your sweetie.
Many families will be faced with a new normal when their college students arrive home for their first extended break of their college career. The thought of sleeping in their own bed, eating good food and resting for about a month sounds really good.
Four days from today, many will be gathering with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving. You know, it’s the holiday between Halloween and Christmas that gets lost in the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy. It’s kind of interesting that the holiday originally designated as a day where all could take time out to give thanks for their many blessings has been high-jacked by the retail industry. Who has time to give thanks much less eat turkey when stores are open and fantastic sales are happening?
On any given day, many parents are in a perpetual state of exhaustion trying to keep up with their children. Imagine trying to keep up with 12! That is exactly what Toby and Brenda Willis do on a daily basis.