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BayouKidz: QUALITY FAMILY TIME

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In Bayou Kidz
Dec 9th, 2016
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Putting Your Family First This Holdiay Season
article by Cindy G. Foust

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, because it’s still 90º and un-delightful. I wish we had a place to go, where it would snow, and snow. Please, Mother Nature, let it snow!” That’s it. That’s all I got. I feel like we should be shopping for bikinis (an item of clothing that hasn’t been in my closet in, like, well, never) and Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil rather than a Christmas tree.

With the promise of rain on this middle of November day; however, I am optimistic that the pending rainstorm will bring some cooler weather that perhaps will trigger a little Christmas spirit. Instead of singing “Let it Snow,” I should be more like Cindy Lou-Who and sing “Where Are You, Christmas?” and maybe that would help. But, like the many other holidays I have written about, I look forward to this time of year in my columns, because I get to advocate for families spending time together.

You know the saying, “The family that plays together, stays together?” I am a huge proponent of this parenting philosophy, because, well, my family has always played together, and we are a family that has stayed together. I have written in columns past about the importance of “allocating” time (that sounds like we are meeting with our CPA to divide our assets) that you spend with your family, quality time, that is.

It’s no secret that families today operate their homes and their lives at breakneck speed. From work, to school, to extra-curricular activities, we spend our lives racing from one obligation to the next. So often, and I don’t know about you, but I just get tired of the race. Sometimes, I just want to stop the mania and pull my family in close, and soak up that time together (I honestly think I’m on the verge of writing a Hallmark card.)

Can I get an “amen” from anyone, especially this time of year? I know I keep “beating the dead horse” that my son is nearing the end of his high school “career” and will be leaving the nest soon. Perhaps that’s why I’m feeling more overly nostalgic this Christmas, because I know my family dynamic is about to change, in a way that will never be the same. That creates an ache in my chest and a lump in my throat that feels like I have swallowed a Buick. I am desperately trying to savor every moment, every day. This Christmas, especially, I want all the “chicks in the nest” as much as possible, and I’ve been thinking about some things we can do together this holiday season.

The trick, as in most families, is that allocation of time I referred to already. As most families know, making the time is the absolute hardest part of this initiative (I swear I sound like I work at the White House, and I’m promoting a tax credit.) But, as I said, there are fewer things more important than putting your family first.

So where do we start? I can tell you where I’m starting this season. First, we are having a movie night, and not the kind at home, that is too easy. I’m putting the four of us in the car and heading to Tinseltown. I’ve noticed a few Christmas movies that will be out this season, so our family will be like the Griswalds (minus ugly Christmas sweater and white SAS loafers) and hit the theater together.

Next, and dare I mention, Christmas card night? Does anyone else out there ever feel like the single hardest accomplishment during the holidays is getting your Christmas cards made and then mailed? Sometimes I think it would be easier to qualify for the Olympics! So this year, I am starting a little earlier, making it a little easier on myself and we are going to sit down one night with a bowl of chili, around the breakfast table (I feel another Hallmark card coming) and we are all going to sign our cards. That way, everyone is involved, and they can even help me get them addressed.

On to our next Walton’s Mountain moment, we are baking cookies. I can’t wait for my 18-year old son’s expression when he comes home and I have gingerbread and sugar cookie dough ready for the bake-off. I will keep my readers posted if he decides to tell his family good-bye and go into the Witness Protection Program (no, that was actually last week when his 50-year old mother did a hip hop dance at his pep rally…a moment in time I so desperately wish I could erase.) When my son was a little boy, he and I used to make gingerbread cookies and hang them on the tree. I will be happy to remind him that these were some of the best of times, with a good Christmas movie playing and his family all gathered around the island decorating cookies.

Our next family outing will include visiting the “Holiday Light” displays in downtown Monroe and West Monroe. My good friend, Alana Cooper, and her team at the Monroe/West Monroe CVB, has done a brilliant job of organizing Christmas on the River, and it truly makes you think you’ve gone back in time. There’s something for everyone from the parades, the lights, the fireworks and the live entertainment, and it’s right here in our backyard.

And finally, and this one is easy, we are all decorating the Christmas tree. In years past, we did this as a family, but as time marched on, and everyone got so busy (and older and perhaps outgrow the tradition a little), I ended up being the one who decorated it. My little girl does help, but over the last several years, our family tradition, well, sort of took a backseat to our lives. Well folks, the tradition is about to be back at our house, and again, this is such an easy night to plan for your family.

We might even make a few homemade ornaments (okay, this will definitely send my son to the closest house that will take him in), but what fun, especially when you have younger children, to make family ornaments that you will cherish for the rest of your tree decorating lives. Some of my favorites are the homemade ones my kids made when they were in grade school, and their little toothless faces are on plastered on a Christmas tree ornament. Makes me smile just typing this.

So, there you have the Foust Family Christmas 2016…as we gear up to let our first chicken leave the nest, like many of you have already had to do. And if you are those grandparents, like my children’s grandparents, who have already had your children leave home to start their own families, some of these traditions can even be started and enjoyed with your grandchildren.  The simple truth is that these precious days pass so fast. Savor them, readers. Stop and make time to “play together.” It’s a little work. It takes a little time to organize activities. It especially takes effort to carve out the time to do it, but you won’t ever look back and regret the memories you made (It’s official, I’m applying to Hallmark to write their cards for them.)

And thank you readers, for allowing us in your homes this season, and all the seasons of the year. It is a privilege to write for you, to encourage you and to parent with you. May your holiday season be filled with love, thanksgiving, family and friends. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!