It’s the final countdown until the big day (cue Europe’s 1986 hit song). The lists have been checked twice, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and all that’s left is the wait……the long wait until we can rip open those gifts!
And when those gifts are torn into, we wait with baited breath willing and hoping our loved ones not only enjoy the gifts, but remember to say “Thank you” or at the very least acknowledge the others in the room. Nothing says holiday fun like demanding your child say ‘Thank you’ to Auntie dear for the lovely footie pajamas and your child erupts into a stream of whining crying excuses while he/she will never wear them and how hot those PJs make their feet.
Give yourself an early gift this year, take a few moments and share with your loved ones your expected behaviors during the holidays. Sometimes it just needs to be laid out there for everyone to realize it IS expected and no one, big or small, is exempt.
Greetings – for the most part, this one is pretty easy, HOWEVER, given the excitement of the day, simple reminders are good. Practice walking into a room or through the front door and saying ‘Hi’ with your loved ones. If eye contact isn’t the best, coach your loved one to look at the person’s chin or hair. If your loved one is non-verbal, practice waving or the sign for ‘Hi’ or a simple smile may be just as effective. Hiding behind you is NOT an expected behavior. Running in the door and hiding under the table is NOT an expected behavior. Spell out these unexpected behaviors very clearly.
Hugs, handshakes and the like – for some this is nothing short of a fingernails down a chalkboard moment. Give your loved one alternatives to hugging if that’s NOT the preferred choice of interaction. Fist bumps, high fives, and waving are all expected behaviors everyone can live with. If there are relatives that would be offended if they didn’t get a hug, take a few seconds before the holiday and explain to them why this is difficult. Tell THEM what to expect and WHY you need their support.
Disappointment when opening gifts – this is something not foreign to most of us. Practice expected reactions by opening ‘gifts’ of spoons or rocks or paper towels. Smile and say ‘Thank you’. Smile and say ‘Thank you’. Make a game plan for when a gift is opened that your loved one already owns. Make-up a simple gesture (channel your inner baseball coach) that tells your loved one, “I know you already have that. We will exchange this one and you can get something else. Smile and say Thank you.” . Once you have the gesture established, practice. Wrap up current belongings and practice
In all of these cases, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent….something that is more applicable for everyone.
And please, through it all, expected or unexpected find the joy. Find something to laugh about. Find those moments that fill your heart.
Happiest of Holidays!
Yours in Speech,
Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.