Season of Thanks by a Father’s Advice

What Thanksgiving is to many is a moment of reflection on what is most important to them and an opportunity to be thankful for it. During the holidays, my family’s house is filled with stomping feet, slamming doors, laughing, crying, yelling and hiding (adults included) — all the typical sounds of a house filled with kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and more family and friends. The holidays certainly do not create moments of tranquility and images of beachfront cabana massages.

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The day begins with a chaotic mess of to do’s.  It starts with waking up to early morning rustling mischief. Why is she in her brother’s room? You jump up and it begins! You have to feed their bodies, wishing you could just drop hay in a trough. Dressing in the kids in their best is paired with pleas of “just straighten your leg!” Then you get yourself ready. Anything to wear within sight will do for you. Start gathering all the bags and whatever  gadgets the kids insist on taking on the road, all the food and whatever else you are bringing over, to pack in the car. I think it might take longer to fill the car than it actually takes to get us where we are going. Once we arrive, the kids run off and meet with their chosen counterpart and disappear out of view but certainly not out of hearing range.

The adults exchange their hellos and settle off in to their respective positions. It’s off to the couch, kitchen, or dining room table, basement, porch, or the “lifeguard tower.”  I confess, I am the lifeguard. I have young ones so I find a spot in the room, perch myself on something that is easy to dismount and wait. I wait for a cry, scream, or bang, and react on cue. I place myself where I can be included in the conversation, but can still make it to their location in close to two seconds flat. There are several dry runs from time to time just to keep my time sharp.

No matter what position you play, its important to take the time to look around the room and smile at the faces you see. This is what life is truly about. We work every day and struggle through hard times just so we can have moments exactly like this. Enjoy it! Find love in the craziness and join your nieces and nephews with your own, and play. You see your kids every day and you are giving them all such an important lesson of keeping family together. So take this time to let your nieces and nephews know you love them and are interested in showing them attention. They should know you are there for them too.

As the kids get older it will become easier for those who don’t have as much patience for toddlers to play games or hold conversations with a 9-year-old or a teenager.  Take the time to do that. I understand all adults are not able to play with an infant for too long,  not because of a lack of want or desire, but because they just don’t have anything to say or do with them! Parents have no choice but to sing the ABC’s AGAIN.

My advice is to take the time to realize that and look to form a new or further bond with your nieces or nephews. Though there may be some disconnect initially, I think it is a great time to play a game or ask some open-ended questions. Mess up their hair, give a little tease, and be the fun uncle or aunt they are looking for.  Trust me, they are looking for that. An aunt or uncle is an outlet kids may not always experience.

Enjoy the holidays for all the right reasons. Put everyday aside to celebrate love for family and one another. As holidays come and go, make sure you’re grateful for precious time spent with family. I hope you have a happy and safe autumn and holiday season, and take a lesson from nature and change your colors from time to time.

Lance is a Long Island dad who offers his insights and advice on parenting and raising two children in Long Island. Tweet him at @AFathersAdvice.

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