Family Matters

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2000

Cathy Holmes / L’Observateur / December 16, 2000

Sometimes it’s tough to avoid being overwhelmed by the holiday season, but LSU AgCenter Extension Agent Cathy Holmes says it is possible to keep your wits and enjoy the merriment.

“The holiday season is typically filled with sweet smells, unexpected visits from family and friends, shopping and parties,” Holmes says, adding, “Although these things usually are pleasant, they can be overwhelming in abundance.”Holmes offers these suggestions for keeping your holiday spirit alive: Say no to busy holiday schedules. If holiday parties and activities are toolong and too many, you can opt to skip a few. Select the parties andactivities that you will attend well in advance, and decline other invitations.

By doing this, you will have more quality time to spend with the loved ones of your choice.

Plan gift buying in advance. To avoid last-minute gift purchases, not tomention spending extra money, shop for Christmas gifts all year. Not onlywill you save money because you can buy many items on sale, you also could save yourself the hassle of being in crowded malls during the busy holiday season.

Do not expect families to be perfect during the holidays. If your familygenerally gets along well during the year, they will tend to get along during the holidays. But if your family does not typically peacefully exist, chancesare they will not peacefully exist during the holidays. Often, individualsexpect magic to occur during the holiday season and to create peace and good cheer within families. As nice as this would be, it usually isn’t realistic. Keep expectations realistic. If your family gatherings are filled with conflictand are unpleasant, seriously consider spending your holidays with others who can offer peace and good will.

Plan and prepare meals and snacks ahead of time. Freeze them for a laterdate or make foods that take less than 20 minutes to prepare. By doing thisyou will be able to spend more time visiting with friends and family.

Do something special for others. There are numerous opportunities duringthe holiday season to help others who are less fortunate. Example includedonating toys that your children have outgrown to community service agencies or schools, helping prepare or serve a meal at a homeless shelter, purchasing toys for needy children or creating something with your hands and giving it to someone special. If you cannot think of something special todo, contact a local church or civic group for ideas.

Start a family tradition. Think about the traditions of your family. Howwere they started? What do they mean to you? Traditions help to build family bonds. What better gifts could you give than the gift of a tradition to yourfamily during the holiday season? Ask for suggestions from your family. Ifothers are involved and active in the planning process, that gives a greater chance of their buying into the plan. Select something that is meaningful andthat can be done every year. Examples of family traditions include going tochurch together as a family during the holidays, having Christmas parties, Christmas dinner, assisting at a homeless shelter as a family, taking presents to families less fortunate and so forth.

Take time for yourself. Often adults spend a great deal of time tending tothe needs of others. If you feel overwhelmed by others’ demands mixed withthe demands of the holidays, take some time for yourself. Think of activitiesthat make you fell good and do them. Do them alone or with a friend.Suggestions include going to a movie, taking a long bubble bath, going to dinner or taking a long walk. Be good to yourself first, then it will be easier tobe good to others.

For information on family life call Cathy Holmes at the LSU AgCenter Extension office at 497-3260.

CATHY HOLMES, an extension agent of the LSU AgCenter extension office in Edgard, writes this column regularly for L’Observateur.

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