Tonight, tomorrow, over the next few days– people are going to be exposed to family members they may not care for. They are going to receive gifts that may not knock their socks off. They are going to find themselves in social situations that they may not be accustomed to or would prefer to skip.
So, as you are loading the kiddo’s and the gifts into the car for the trip over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house (‘whose house smells like an old lady and she always pinches my cheeks and doesn’t have internet or cable TV and its so boring!’) take the time to go over the following:
The word is “Thanks.” Have them practice it, with a smile in their voice, even as they pretend to open up boxes of ugly scarves, or socks or another hand made sweater. Have them learn to resist the urge to grimace or to say, “I HATE orange; or I NEVER shop at this store” when they open up an envelope with a gift card.
Have them think of different ways to NOT show that they are less than pleased with their gift. Have them repeat, over hill and dale, until it means something, “It’s the thought that counts.” Have them think of three gifts that Mary and Joseph might have preferred for the infant Jesus, rather than gold, frankincense and myrrh, but to also think about whether or not they thanked the three wise men anyway… (I bet their responses will be funny! I would LOVE to hear them)
My grandmother’s nativity, with an addition of the lovely Christmas tree candle in the same creamy white—a Christmas gift from Arlie last year (thanks, sweetie!!!)
Tell them they can, on the ride home, politely suggest someone else they can give the orange sweater to, but first, Grandma is to see them button up and pose for a photo with her, SMILING.
(While you are at it, task them with talking to every adult person in the room BEFORE making a bee-line to see which presents are for them. Not only is it simply respect for the adult members of the family, but it is the the opportunity to make familial connections between the generations, and to create Christmas memories.)
And if this reminder is something that you needed as well— well then, “You’re welcome!”
Oh, and Merry Christmas! THANK YOU for your comments over the course of the month, I hope my photos I have brought you some memories and some joy!
May you create countless new memories of your own!