By Taralyn Parker

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Could you use a little more peace during the holiday season? A better connection with family members in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season?

May I offer you a bit of advice that I’m doing my best to heed:

Come as you are and do what you can. Lean into the parts of the holidays that heal you and make you happy.

I will let you in on a little secret. I ordered out for Thanksgiving this year. The entire meal came from a local restaurant  – complete with heating instructions. This year was my first year hosting Thanksgiving for my little family with my mother as our guest. Typically we have always been part of large extended family gatherings.

When we were planning the holiday, my husband and I tried to imagine our perfect day. We knew we would be going to breakfast and bowling with my extended family. Plenty of time for playing games, relaxing in comfy clothes, and enjoying delicious food – all these were at the top of our list. I don’t mind cooking, but learning how to prepare a full turkey seemed overwhelming this year.  Not to mention the clean up.

With all this in mind, we ordered catering and it was perfect for us. While our meal was in the oven, we laughed over games, looked at family photos, and to put it simply – basked in holiday togetherness. I even scanned and uploaded a few photos to Family Search – that’s a fun holiday for me!

Breaking the traditional Thanksgiving mold and leaning into new ways of connection was just what we needed. It was a happy day, a calm day. Not only a memorable day for the family, but a happy one for this mom, too. Perhaps another year we will bond over recipes in the kitchen, but for 2021, this was enough.

Breaking the traditional Thanksgiving mold and leaning into new ways of connection was just what we needed.

What parts of the holiday season and the new year heal you and make you happy? How can we facilitate our family members pondering this question for themselves as well? What traditions are bringing us together and are there any that are pulling us apart?

Sometimes I am paralyzed by Pinterest perfection. I have it in my head how the holidays or something should be. These expectations aren’t always based on what my family actually wants or needs.

Slowly I am learning to step back, communicate more clearly with my family, and embrace what I’m calling Parker-perfection. A hodge-podge of my husband’s family traditions, my family’s traditions and most importantly – our own family’s traditions. I’m acknowledging this may change year to year. Certainly it will evolve as our family grows.

I’d love to know, what family traditions are you leaning into and embracing this year? Which ones make you the happiest and bring you closest together? Please share in the comments!


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