10 Reasons to Be Grateful This Holiday

Gratitude is good for your health, your mood, and your relationships. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus, the holiday season centers around faith, family, and gratitude. 

1. The laughter of children.

Whether you're going to see Santa, spinning a dreidel, or teaching cultural traditions, the magic of the holiday seasons is built around children. Seeing the faces of little ones light up and hearing their delightful squeals of joy is one of the best parts of the season.

2. Family.

Most of us take a little time to see family during this time of year. Gathering together and catching up is a tradition for which we can all be grateful this season.

3. Tradition.

Whether the group gathers in front of the fire, or in front of a favorite holiday movie, annual traditions make the holidays special. Hanging stockings. Baking. Stringing up lights. Lighting candles. All these traditions are passed down through generations, and practicing them links us to our histories.

4. Food.

Whatever the traditions, they almost always include special foods. Unique holiday foods are something we can all look forward to year round. And now that the holiday season is here, it's time to dig in and enjoy them with gratitude.

5. Faith.

The holidays are a time of faith and reverence. Holiday traditions symbolize some of the most sacred of our beliefs. The holidays can strengthen and renew faith, binding us to our spiritual roots.

6. The little things.

Whether it's appreciating the warmth of grandma's house for the holiday, or savoring favorite music on the record player, the little things to enjoy give us much to be thankful for.

7. The big things.

Sometimes the holidays contain miracles: the favor of strangers, a life changing gift, a reunion with a long lost loved one, a final tradition with a dying family member. The holidays invite us to take a chance and make a difference for one another in the most profound ways.

8. A break from routine.

Whether this year's celebration is profound or mundane, this time of year means stepping out of the everyday and into something special, if only for a few days. 

9. Over the river and through the woods.

Traveling home is one of the best traditions of the season. Trekking across the terrain to enter back into the place where loved ones gather is something we can all be grateful for.

10. Holiday spirit.

Giving and receiving, love and laughter, visiting those in need, the holidays are all about that special spirit. And that's the best part of all!



Posted on December 20, 2015 .

Kids Aren't Mirror Images of Parents

Hey Parent: Are you an overachiever? Type A? A perfectionist? Or maybe you are a devout person of faith, committed to your religious beliefs and practicing at the highest level of commitment every day. Maybe you are a sports fanatic, or a ballerina, or a cross fit competitor, and after years of sifting through the options in your life, you have discovered the most fulfilling, most absolutely perfect life to lead. That’s wonderful, congratulations! Knowing with certainty who you are and what you want out of life can leave you wanting exactly those things for your children. If you’re the type of parent who has successfully figured it out in life, and you managed to build a life you find to be amazing, you may risk expecting your child to follow in your footsteps. After all, you found the answers. Why does he need to keep searching?

It may be tempting to imagine your child growing up as a little miniature version of you or your spouse, sharing all your preferences and beliefs, especially if your life is terrific, but your kids will not turn out just like you. Kids don’t turn out as replicas of their parents.


Genetic recombination at work.

For one, genetics dictate that all those dominant and recessive traits of each of two parents combine in distinctive ways, making every child a unique snowflake.Look at even very large families and you’ll see that no two are just alike. Physical appearance, personality, vocation, all of these vary widely within families. The number of genetic possibilities is endless, and yet none of them will be perfectly like one of the two parents. But even if your child were your exact genetic copy, your child would not turn out to be exactly like you, or anyone.


Environment accounts for surprisingly more than half.

Environmental differences go a long way toward shaping preferences, beliefs, and personalities. Maybe being a ballerina isn’t as exciting when someone in the family has already taken that role. It might seem more fun to take on an unknown challenge, or to avoid competing with an expert adult family member as a novice child.

Family roles can contribute to preference, identity, and personality. The child of two scientists might prefer to study creative writing. The child of an educator might drop out of college. Sometimes there is no room to be just like you; you have already filled up that space!


Enjoy discovering new traits and interests in your kids.

Each child will be his or her own person, with a startlingly new blend of familiar and unfamiliar qualities. Get to know your child’s personality. Watch her unfold. Be astonished by her loathing of physical exertion, coming from a family of athletes. Maybe she needed to explore the chance to be different and saw an opportunity.

And while it might sound fun to have your son watch football on Sunday, or compete against you in an auto racing game, he might prefer a game of tag or a book about Greek mythology. He might take no interest in your favorite activity, because he may be a very different type of person than you.


Just let go of the fantasy 

Over and over, throughout, parents must let go of the desire for our children to be just like us. Their physical appearance, temperament, interests, and yes, even their beliefs are ultimately their own. We go along for the journey, but don’t get to steer them toward the life we chose for them, at least not much.

It doesn’t matter when parents adjust this particular expectation, but earlier makes life easier. It’s truly never too late. Most teens and young adults will happily demonstrate time and again how different they are than their parents, until we parents finally get the message.

Posted on November 30, 2015 .