Truth be told, I hadn’t planned on a “part 2” until I was daydreaming on Yom Kippur (what else am I going to do on Yom Kippur?) and I realized a very important facet of surviving the Holidays —- and so I present Part 2 of my very important and crucial survival guide.
Holidays means family time. (generally speaking… I better not make blanket statements without covering my ass first 😉 Yom Tov means no computers, no TV, no distracting cell phones – only your loved ones with lots and lots of food! So the question is how to maximize this great opportunity. Often times we are so wrapped up in cooking, fixing salads and washing dishes, that before you know it the days go by and you feel like you barely saw your mother / sister / brother etc…
Part A: Making the Most Out of Family Time 🙂
1. Slow Down:
Well we all know this one… stop and smell the roses. But it’s good to get a reminder. Sure, you’re bustling in the kitchen, or getting the kids washed / bathed / dressed, or konking out on the couch from sheer exhaustion, but it helps to remember that the world will still be there with one less salad or dare I say, a slightly messy kitchen (blasphemy! :)) no seriously – the point of the family being all together is to ENJOY it!!!!!!!
2. Quality Time during Working Time:
Just because your slicing tomatoes for your “hearts of palm” salad – doesn’t mean you can’t throw in some fun stuff while you’re doing it! Working in the kitchen makes for great quality time. Enlist a sibling to help you cut veggies. Sometimes this time in the kitchen is even better than sitting at the table because it’s more of a “one on one” feeling. (also, I’d like to point out that various articles I’ve read talk about children who help their parents in the kitchen with meal prep are less likely to be obese and have eating disorders etc etc. but I don’t have scientific proof of that)
3. Tradition! Tradition!
(you have to say it in the Reb Tevye voice :))
Sometimes the best part of visiting family over the Chagim are the small fun things and traditions that are unique to your family.
Example A: There is a small tradition at my in laws house – after Bidekas Chomatz all the kids pile into the car and we get slurpees – as one last “hurrah” before Pesach begins.
Example B: Although this isn’t a “tradition” really – I couldn’t help but mention it because it shows how even the little things can be so much fun! My sister in law creates these ADORABLE signs to hang on the cabinets reminding everyone which ones are Pesach and which ones are Chomatz. Granted, everyone closes their cabinets, but I love how my sister in law puts an added flair and fun to something so simple.
You can make traditions out of anything and the question is finding them. It might be playing a certain board game after the lunch meal on Yom Tov – or having a motzei yom tov trip to the bowling alley (can you tell I visit Kentucky often ?:):)) — its those memories that make visiting the family so much more fun and exciting and we remember those times much more than that weird salad (which no one really liked anyway 🙂 )
Well now that we have some ideas in making the most out of family time …. Here’s Part B !
Part B: “Help My Family is Driving me Crazy!” 🙂
We all know the holidays is the time when the family gets together… the boys come home from Yeshiva.. the girls come home from their schools and the marrieds and grandkids pile in and celebrate together.
Ok, but as much as we love hanging out with our families and loved ones things can get a little “stuffy.” A 3 day Yom Tov, cooped up in the same house, feeling grossed out from the amounts of eating and cooking, kids jumping all over the place and nowhere for you to run away can make ANYONE want to putt their hair out! And someone like me, who comes from a 1 sibling household, getting together with “the family” (gosh it sounds like a Godfather movie) – well, it can get a little overwhelming.
So here are Duby’s awesome tips for dealing with it …. (and surviving!)
1. Create “Duby Time”
This is more important than you realize. There is no need to drain your proverbial battery till it’s completely dead – go and recharge yourself! Go into your room, shut the door and enjoy some “Duby Time.” (of course put your own name in there :)). Socializing is fun but can also be draining… the kids can be so cute and adorable, but after a while that small headache will turn into a migraine …. GO RECHARGE YOURSELF!!!
2. Create “Couples Time” –
If you’re married and visiting family for the holidays – then it’s a good idea to have some Couple Time. Just like you want to recharge your own batteries, it’s also nice to spend quality time with your spouse. This is the time both of you have off from work/ school – and this is your Chag as well. I highly recommend “connecting” after a long day of family time… and remember that NOT all outings need to be done with the “gantze mishpacha.” There’s nothing wrong with having an evening when just the 2 of you head out somewhere for some Chol Hamoed fun 🙂
If you’re single – a good idea to change things up can be having outings with just the older siblings. We’ve done this where “The Marrieds” go out for the evening for bowling or arcades and the atmosphere is VERY different when it’s just the adult children having fun without the kiddies tagging along.
3. Venture Out!
Along the lines of my “Duby Time” idea – I also like the idea of venturing out by yourself over the holidays. Taking a Yom Tov stroll – going to the park – or just sitting by yourself in the living room reading a book while everyone else is in the den watching a movie / playing a game etc. also allows you to enjoy the Chag without some of the “craziness.”
4. One is NOT the loneliest Number:
I find that when everyone is together – the volume gets louder (and more fun!) but over time, this can feel strenuous and taxing on our energies. So I gotta tell you that one is NOT the loneliest number. While being all together is nice – sometimes having a quiet moment on the couch with that favorite sibling of yours – you know – the one who was away at yeshiva for 6 months – that can be just as wonderful and nice as chatting with everyone all together – AND will less likely to feel overwhelming and tiring.
Just Enjoy It!
The best piece of advice I can give about getting through the holidays – comes from a loyal reader of mine – Eli Spalter. He says that when it comes to the holidays, the trick is to sit back and try to enjoy it all. If there are annoying people, or someone says something to piss you off (which tends to happen) — although its difficult, try to let it wash over you and focus on the fun and good times! Just laugh it off- because before you know it, you’ll be back in your own home and back to work!!! SO enjoy it while you can!! 🙂
A Sneak Peek Into Duby’s Survival Kit:
I certainly won’t scare you with my ENTIRE list of what I bring when I travel to family for Yom Tov, but here is a portion of the kinds of things I like to bring – so even when I’m far from home, I still have a “sanctuary” in my guest room over Chag. Feel free to copy 🙂
1. Favorite brand of pain reliever (Aleve, Advil – whatever works for you! :))
2. Pepto Bismol (im a big fan! – for after those huge meals :))
3. Special snacks for your room (i.e. granola bars, gum etc.)
4. Books to read over Yom Tov
5. Magazines to read
6. Ipod with some new shows / movies to watch when you need to recharge. (I recommend Family Guy – they’re highly addictive and great for blocking out noise :))
7. Journal – you might not have time for writing – but I’ve taken mine with me to jot things down.
8. Laptop – DUH!
9. Yummy Sweatshirt (note the Yummy – the warmth isn’t the issue – it’s the yum factor :))
10. Same goes for slippers / slipper socks – to create that homey feeling.
11. And of course – you’ll never find Duby traveling without her favorite Teddy Bear 🙂
Have a wonderful meaningful and joyous Yom Tov!!!!!