Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: celebrate

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    Ideas for Celebrating Christmas

    As Christmas approaches, some eagerly anticipate celebrating in the same way they always have. Others are ready to shake things up a bit and do something a little different.

    The thought of buying presents for all of their children and grandchildren overwhelmed Terri and Bill, especially when nobody really needed anything. After several conversations about what to do, they finally decided to give their family a special gift of time and togetherness. They started planning mystery destination trips.

    When the time came, they told their family what kind of clothes to pack. Then on the morning of departure, everybody learned where they were headed together. Sometimes they took a trip to the mountains for a weekend, and other years they did something more elaborate. These experiences helped create memories that will last far longer than many of the gifts they had given in the past.

    If you're ready to add some variety to your festivities, here are some things you might try:

    • Expand your knowledge and your palate. Some families like to learn how other cultures celebrate the holidays. Consider letting your children choose a country and create your Christmas celebration around those customs and traditions. You can even change up your usual dinner menu to include traditional dishes from that country. As a bonus, you might even get extra help from the kids in the kitchen.

    • Play games. How about starting a tradition of giving your family a new game that everybody plays for the first time at your Christmas gathering? Speak Out, Heads Up!, Apples to Apples, Family Feud and Catch Phrase are likely to create lively conversations without the drama.

    • Go offline. Maybe you could ditch the technology and ask everybody to come prepared to share a talent or a hobby as you gather together.

    • Be more active. Resurrect the annual family football game. There’s nothing like some healthy competition to work off the big meal and make room for the next. If you can’t do football, sack races, three-legged relays, a scavenger hunt or a hike will fill the bill!

    • Share family history. Many younger family members don’t know much about their family history, and the holidays are a great time to learn about it. Try having your guests bring a baby picture, then shuffle them up and guess who belongs with each photo. As you connect the pictures to each family member, that person can share a little-known fact about their family history.

    • Create together. Have a gingerbread house building competition. Purchase kits, but have some additional candies and supplies on hand. Divide up into teams and set a time limit for the creations. Then, designate a judge and let the fun begin!

    • Treat yourself (and someone else). If you don’t enjoy cooking the Christmas meal, eat out for a change! When going out though, remember that employees are working on a holiday instead of being with their own families. You might even show extra Christmas spirit and bless the wait staff with a large tip.

    Finally, as you make plans, don’t forget those who work on Christmas Day. Some people are alone for the holidays, too. If you don’t celebrate with family, consider taking homemade breakfast or Christmas dinner to first responders. You might even take food to a hospital waiting room or to someone who can’t leave their home. Or, you can really brighten someone's day by inviting them to celebrate with you, especially if you know they are lonely.

    Have a wonderful holiday season!

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    5 Reasons You Should Celebrate Milestones

    When our daughter graduated from high school a few years ago, I asked a number of people in her life to write her a letter to congratulate her on this accomplishment. I asked them to include words of wisdom as she moved into her next phase of life.

    I made a scrapbook with the letters and gave it to her as she headed off to college. In my mind, the purpose of the scrapbook was two-fold. In those moments when she struggled during this next phase, we wanted her to remember what she had already accomplished. We also wanted her to remember she was not walking the road alone; that she has lot of people in her court who believe in her.

    Unquestionably, every day is a gift. However, certain days mark significant moments in our lives. Whether it’s a fifth grade, high school or college graduation, celebrate each milestone. Each of these moments in life marks a time of accomplishment and of moving forward to the next thing.

    Author and speaker John Stahl-Wert says it is important to celebrate milestones for five reasons:

    • As humans we are called to grow. “Becoming more” is essential. We suffer when we don’t grow. Every milestone deserves notice. It is affirmation of an accomplishment.

    • Growth is nourished by encouragement. Celebrate even the small steps because “small is where big comes from.” We guide others toward bigness through encouragement.

    • Acknowledging milestones gives us the opportunity to reflect on where we have been, where we are now and what we can learn from this part of the journey. Our growing and achieving is for the greater purpose of our service to the world. Achievement, in and of itself, doesn’t fulfill, and without reflection, we are trapped by an insatiable avarice to fill a bottomless hole.

    • Nothing locks in learning like a party. It signifies that the accomplishment really matters.

    • Celebrating milestones reminds us to give thanks for everyday moments. When we pause to celebrate something that is noteworthy, the act of slowing down invites us to notice everything else.

    It's been seven years since our daughter graduated from high school. Little did we know how impactful that scrapbook would be. It sits on her coffee table and when the going gets tough, it reminds her that people believe in her and that she has what it takes to keep on keeping on.

    In a world where it seems like it’s all about the “big wins,” it might be helpful to remember that there is no such thing as a small victory or a wasted loss. Each experience helps prepare us for what lies ahead, so celebrate!

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    8 Ways to Celebrate the Empty Nest

    The house is SO quiet and your heart feels a bit heavy. You have definitely shed some tears. You have also stayed awake wondering if you prepared them well to be successful out on their own. Now you consider what you will do with so much extra time on your hands.

    While grieving what is no more is certainly appropriate, there is also cause for celebration. Although you may not feel like it, your first move should be to celebrate your accomplishment. You have spent years of your life focused on preparing your children to launch. Now you actually have time to breathe and celebrate!

    Parents who have successfully made the leap to the empty nest don’t deny that the first few weeks and sometimes months are a bit tricky. But over time, they eventually found their groove and embraced a new normal. About six months into the empty nest, one parent stated, “If people knew how amazing the empty nest is, they would never divorce.”

    In spite of the emptiness you may feel at the moment, here are some reasons to celebrate the empty nest:

    • You can purchase groceries and open the refrigerator door two days later to find you still have food. Or, you can decide you aren’t cooking another meal because you don’t have to.

    • Instead of having to search for your shoes, scissors or tools, they will be where you put them the last time you used them.

    • Walking around the house naked is perfectly acceptable. An empty-nester said one of their favorite things about this season was being able to get their morning coffee in the buff with no worries about who would see them.

    • If you decide you want to go to bed at 8:30, there is nothing stopping you. Seriously, many parents talk about feeling exhausted after so many years of being on the go. Allow yourself some extra shuteye. How much better you feel after a few good nights of solid rest might surprise you.

    • You clean your house and it actually stays clean for more than a few hours.

    • Vacations in the off-season are now a possibility.

    • After years of feeling like you are ships passing in the night, you can reconnect with your spouse. If you are single, you have time to pamper yourself without feeling guilty about it.

    • Instead of always focusing on everybody else’s needs, you can consider your own needs and how you would like to spend your time. Perhaps you want to head back to school, change jobs or volunteer with a group you have had no time to work with until now.

    While there are many reasons to celebrate the empty nest, don’t let it shock you if embracing them early on is a challenge. When your identity has been wrapped up in parenting for at least 18 years, it can be difficult to regain your footing. Don’t be embarrassed about talking with those who are further along or asking for their support.

    And, if you are thinking, “But I actually enjoyed cooking for everybody and I kind of miss searching for things. It feels odd not to be needed,” that’s okay. Your kids still need you, but in a different way. Plus, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to cook and clean whenever they come home to visit, or down the road when grandchildren arrive. You can invite your family over whenever you want. On the other hand, you might decide to visit them instead - if your new schedule will allow it.