Minimalist Holidays: Gratitude & Connection

MinimalistParenting_holidays-badge.pngThe events in Newtown likely have left many or all of us with an altered lens on the holidays. Every day since last Friday, I've experienced countless seemingly everyday moments with Laurel and Violet that just don't feel so everyday to me anymore. I'm not saying that every moment is easy or fun (for example, Violet's tantrums), but the moments where I feel my eyes fill with tears and think I am lucky to be experiencing this have been plentiful. So for this week's Minimalist Holidays post, I wanted to share six simple ways to express gratitude and foster connection.

1. Take a moment to reach out. Whether it's by phone, e-mail, or a quick text, there's a lot of positive power in simply letting someone know you are thinking of them. Reach out to and connect with someone you care about with a simple expression of "I'm thinking of you" or "I'm grateful for you."

2. Create breathing room. Back when I wrote about minimalist birthday parties, I referenced the example of Laurel and I prioritizing our to-do list in order of most to least fun and letting go the items on the bottom of the list. Follow suit for your holiday to-do list -- create breathing room so you can actually enjoy your holidays instead of feeling tethered to a to-do list.

3. Integrate your kids. For the items that remain on your to-do list (following #2), look for ways to integrate your kids. For example, Laurel loves the festivity of Christmas and this weekend she was so happy to work together on making chocolate trail mix bark. It was an easy project (so easy, in fact, that we made 5 batches!), which is good for the general process (i.e., no frustration) and also so that it was possible to chat easily while we worked, instead of being glued to instructions. So, so nice!

4. Stop and be mindful. Throughout your day, take a moment to stop and look around. Absorb what's going on instead of rushing to the next thing. I am certainly prone to launch into "go" mode (e.g., tidying, doing dishes) when Violet plays independently. But this week, taking even a few moments to simply observe her more mindfully has been wonderful.

5. Experiment with your own connection gestures. Explore ways to foster connection that are meaningful to you. For example, I just decided this week that instead of banging out a label mail merge for my holiday cards, I'm going to hand write the addresses instead. With a nice pen. Yes, this will slow down the process, but I'm going to embrace the process because writing each address will offer a moment to think about the recipient.

6. Let go. The holidays are a time when baggage resurfaces. It's not always easy, but try to let go of bad mojo that's absorbing critical bandwidth so you'll have more room in your heart for gratitude and reconnection. If you're feeling stress about upcoming family interactions, be sure to read Jules's post on 10 tips for preserving holiday mental health.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone; I am so grateful for the connection we all share here!

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This post is part of Minimalist Holidays, a series inspired by the idea that you can enjoy the holidays more when you do less. Between now and the end of the year, coauthor Asha Dornfest and I will share ideas for simplifying the holidays so you can focus on what's important: enjoying the season with your family. Visit the Minimalist Holidays page for links to the entire series. And please sign up for our mailing list!

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