November 26, 2018

-“Time is always moving forward, it is never looking back. Make sure that you make every minute count.” -Elizabeth Vainder, M.D. 

It is almost December and that means holidays, school breaks, shopping, travel and family time. It is also a time when many feel stressed or sad. It is a time when you remember the past and the people who have passed. Some people live far from loved ones and the holidays are especially hard. Whatever the case may be,  the most important thing to remember is to keep your mind healthy and your traditions simple.

If you are a new parent, the holidays are a time when you and your partner begin talking about traditions and deciding how and what you  will celebrate. I urge new parents to put thought into this. Children love traditions and usually what you begin to do in the early years of childhood will be what they are looking forward to year after year. It is easy as a parent to get carried away. Perhaps you longed for something as a child and you want to make sure your child has what you were unable to have. Maybe you have memories of your family being stressed or sad during the holidays and you want to focus your efforts on bringing people together instead of apart. Regardless of what you are thinking, I hope that all of us will take the time to reflect on what is most important.

What I have learned as a parent and in practice is that children are simple. When you ask a child what their favorite birthday gift was or what they got for Christmas I often get a blank stare. When I ask them what they did for their birthday or for Christmas I get an elaborate answer filled with details about who was there and what they did. Sometimes it’s simple things like taking the dog for a walk, playing cards, riding bike, baking for the holidays or trimming the tree. The true gift is the gift of TIME.

Think about this as we begin the month of December and try to simplify your gift giving to a few meaningful and special gifts rather than hundreds of insignificant things that will gather dust in a closet. Teach the beauty of giving during the holidays and showing appreciation for the people in your child’s life that make a difference day to day. Include your children in the wrapping of that special gift for grandma or that wonderful teacher that really cares. Consider giving the gift of time in the form of lunch,  dinner or perhaps watching a favorite show or concert together. These are the memories that will last a lifetime and your children will hold dear.

Most importantly, have fun with your kids. Enjoy the laughter and joy that the holidays bring. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. Remind yourself that time will always move forward, it never goes back. Give yourselves and others the gift of your time.

Happy Holidays!

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

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