Over the River & Through the Woods

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Arrive at Grandmother’s house in the holiday spirit.

Story by Judy Goppert

Whether driving, flying or taking a train to see family or friends during the holiday season, it is important to look on the bright side of unexpected situations, which will always happen. Murphy’s law, right? Having a positive attitude and preparing will do the trick. This way, when you begin giving hugs to everyone as you walk through the door, you will feel the soothing warmth of their love. And they will feel yours.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

This applies to more than packing the necessary pjs for the kids and ugly Christmas sweaters and making plane reservations. Make a list for each member of the family. Ask them what they can’t live without for a few days and go from there. Be sure iPads are charged, and activity bags are ready to keep youngsters busy. A few healthy snacks are a good idea too.

Pet Perfection

Call ahead and ask if it is okay to bring Casper the cat or Sunni the dog. If not, make reservations for a pet “hotel” ahead of time, as they fill up fast. 

Set Your Intention for the Holidays

Visualize and think about how you would like to experience the Holidays. Discuss with your family what is too much and stick with the boundaries you agree on. You don’t want to see Uncle Frank a little more than tipsy. You don’t want to miss anything!

Give In Other Ways

Ready for all the ads showing the latest must-haves for the holidays? Remember, the most meaningful gifts are the gifts of time and attention. Giving experiences can be more beneficial than giving things. For example, a zoo pass, a movie night with your kids, or try serving a meal at a homeless shelter. Be creative. And it will be easier to pack the suitcase!

Remember, Nobody’s Perfect

No matter what Pinterest says, not everybody’s gifts are wrapped to the nines and that complicated rum cake recipe doesn’t always come out right. Forgive yourself and don’t fall into stress, anger, and frustration. It would do everyone good to lower expectations and be happy with the string of popcorn on the tree and an overcooked turkey for a change. And save the rum for toasting!

Eat A Vegetable, Or Two

With all the home-baked goodies, it is challenging to remember to eat your veggies. Try setting a tray of celery and carrots with dip amidst the array of divinity, pralines, cookies, and pies. Not to say you shouldn’t partake of these delicacies, just mix in some healthier fare. How about putting fruit in your sangria? That counts!

Get Your ZZZZZ’s

Earplugs or calming noise machines will make sure visions of sugar plums dance in your head! And ensure you wake up for your mom’s coffeecake, sausage balls, and coffee before they are all gone!

Be Present

Consider asking everyone to put their phones in a basket and plan a fun interactive game to engage with each other. How about placing a question card at each person’s table setting and going around the table and discussing the questions? Focus on the traits you admire and love about your family and the beauty of the season.

Spend Time Outside

Have you ever seen those photos of Nordic parents putting their babies’ strollers outside in the snow for naptime? This ancient practice is still popular in Northern European countries today. Parents claim the cold weather is good for the babes and that they sleep better in the fresh air. Getting outside, even during winter months, is crucial for good physical, mental and spiritual health for all of us. Consider walking with your family before or after big meals. 

Take Care of You First

Anyone who has flown on an airplane has heard the instructions given before the flight takes off, “in the event of the oxygen masks being deployed place it on your face first before helping others.” This notion of helping yourself first before helping others can also apply to the holiday season. 


Give everyone a notepad and pen to jot down thoughts as you travel. Then, when you get home, have everyone share. You’ll be surprised at what each of you notices and it could be quite funny, such as, “I didn’t know Grandpa had false teeth until I saw them in a glass in the bathroom!”

Ho, Ho, Ho It Up!

The holidays are full of opportunities to laugh, after all, smiles are contagious. If you find yourself feeling overcome by memories or melancholy, step back and remember this too shall pass, and you can’t get any of these precious holiday moments back. So, whether you are traveling across town or across country, here’s wishing you and your loved ones the most magical holiday season ever!

“Life is what is happening when you are busy making other plans.”  ~ John Lennon

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