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Bringing the Family Together for the Holidays

 
Family Fun Night
The holidays can be the most stressful time of the year. All of us create imagined expectations that are often unrealistic, that we push ourselves to achieve, when what we need to do is take a deep breath and relax. When family comes over, are they really coming to critique your housekeeping or to have an enjoyable meal filled with lots of laughter? While we'll agree that everyone wants to keep a perfect house, but for most of us, it's not practical, so hide the clutter in the extra bedroom (we guarantee that it'll be there later), do a quickie vacuum and dust job, and clean the bathrooms.

So, what can you do to bring the members of your family together for a bit of fun? It's easier than what you think.

One of the biggest challenges is mixing the generations you might have seated around your supper table. Here are some ideas you might try to create lively conversation and interaction throughout the day.

Cook Something Together – Does your family have a secret recipe for turkey, sweet potatoes, or pie? Get those folks who want to learn the recipe into the kitchen to participate. Some family recipes are based on feel, look, texture, and not "real" measurements. It's the experience that counts when preparing those delicacies. You might also have someone write down the steps and estimate the amounts of ingredients for future fine tuning. Besides, have you ever noticed that the kitchen is the most crowded room in the house? Everybody loves the kitchen!

Outlaw the Kids' Table – How many of you were banished to the kids' table during holiday celebrations and eavesdropped on the adult conversations? Be inclusive; you may find that there's more common ground than you expect, and it's a great time to help children practice their manners and to become comfortable interacting with people of all ages.

Do Some Storytelling – Do you remember the time that you were helping Granny hoe in the garden and you kept digging up plants? To keep you involved, she asked you, perhaps a little more sternly than she had planned, "Get the water!" Looking back now, everyone can laugh. It's a part of your family's history. Kids love to hear stories about their parents from their grandparents, and the parents can chime in with…."now, you know that's not what happened at all."

Share Technology – Youngsters can help the older generations with their technology skills and share their favorite apps that might be interesting or useful. Also, using the internet to see what the grandchildren are doing – or everyone, for that matter – can help them stay connected over the miles and times when they aren't together. Consider setting up your own closed group as a family, so only those who are invited can see what's being posted. This could also be an opportunity to talk about yesteryear, when news came via a newspaper and entertainment was listening to the radio.

Let's Get Out the Pictures – Time to share…the old-fashioned way, with real, honest-to-goodness printed photographs. What a wonderful way to tell stories about relatives who may no longer be with us and to keep your family's history alive!

CheckersGames – Checkers might be one of the first games that children remember playing with adults, and it's a good bet that it was a grandmother or grandfather who helped guide Junior through his first checkers strategy lesson. Board games of all sorts are great options, particularly those that allow for teams – Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Cranium, Apples to Apples, etc. You might even pull out a deck of cards for a hot game of Spades (yep, believe it or not, that game used to be played around a card table with people you know!).

Create Your Own Tradition – Some of these new traditions happen quite by accident, but after they happen twice, they become a much anticipated addition to your family's gatherings. Some examples could be an after-dinner checkers tournament, with the winner getting to keep a homemade trophy at their home until next year or until the annual cookie exchange.