This year’s holiday season reminds me of the opening line in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women:

“‘Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

The story is set in the middle of the American civil war, and the four March sisters are grieving over not being able to spend Christmas with their army chaplain father—as well as not having enough money for gifts.

Our current situation has been described countless times in the last 9 months as a “war on the coronavirus.” Many families are feeling the economic impact of the pandemic—and that strain can be compounded by pressures of the holiday season.

On top of that, the usual traditions and festivities have been altered and canceled for many. Families are struggling over how to celebrate this year. Many will make the difficult decision to stay apart. Presents will get shipped all over the world, but it’s not quite the same as being there to open gifts with your loved ones.

Perhaps, we’re all starting to grumble.

How do we embrace this not-so-normal holiday season gracefully? How do we keep our kids (and ourselves) from turning into the Grinch?

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Here are some conscious parenting tips from one of our favorite holiday songs:

🎄Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Look for ways to make your home space bright and cheery, especially if you’re spending most of your time indoors or facing bleak winter weather. You might go wild with tinsel and lights; you might bring in an extra lamp and a potted plant. Whatever you choose, find ways to involve your child in the decorating (or redecorating) process.

😄 ‘Tis the season to be jolly. Practice gratitude. Make a point to talk with your child about how much there is to be thankful for: good health, good friends, good food. If you find you or your child sliding into the holiday blues, acknowledge their feelings. This is a difficult time. Then, help them reframe their experience to focus on what’s positive to boost their mood.

🕊️Don we now our gay apparel. Get all dressed up, even if there’s nowhere to go! Put on your best holiday clothes for a special meal or stroll around the neighborhood. The crowd may be small, but you can still celebrate in style. Don’t forget to take pictures to send to family and friends!

🎶 Troll the ancient Yuletide carol. Keep your traditions, even if they don’t look the way you expect them to. Light the menorah, read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, eat cookies on Bodhi Day—show your children that there’s still reason to celebrate, even in the face of adversity. This year is also a great opportunity to start a new tradition to pass on to future generations.

Still wondering how to bring some cheer to your family’s holiday season? You don’t have to figure it out alone. The Guidance Approach to Parenting is all about collaborative problem-solving, so be sure to include your child in your holiday planning. Not only does your child have their own set of wants and needs, but they can also bring some much-needed creativity into the equation!

Our Facebook group is also a great resource for parents who need support or inspiration during the holidays. Join us to ask a question, or share a challenge, or show us how you’re celebrating.

Fa-la-la-la-la!

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