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More planning can make the holidays joyful for everyone

Holidays. They are falling upon us as I speak. They pose a reason to get together with relatives of all kinds and eat way too much food. Though the holidays are usually fun-filled events, they also can be stressful. Perhaps that is because everyone wants things to go smoothly for everyone else. I often find that striving for perfection brings out the craziest sides of people, and so I am writing to all of you about how you might keep your family happy and stress-free this year.

Keep in mind that all of us want to simply enjoy ourselves and visit with others during the holidays. You cannot prevent the inevitable. You cannot change the way others act. They are your family and you have to love them, no matter what. And besides, who would have a normal holiday if everything went swimmingly?

A good way to keep parent/teen relationships healthy during this time of cheer is to keep communication lines open. Make sure that everyone involved knows what the heck is going on so there are no disputes later on. A simple example is tree decorating. Families often have disagreements about where certain things should go, who has better Christmas ornaments to hang, and if you guys still want a real Christmas tree, even though everyone is allergic to them. These may seem like small things, but the truth is, they can turn into something bigger than expected. My advice to everyone is to have a plan.



Having a semi-structured idea of what is going on during the holidays can and will make them pass by effortlessly, and keep everyone in the family somewhat sane. I know from personal experience that things can get a little crazy, what with massive cooking, wrapping presents, and shopping galore, but if everyone has a single task or a list of things to do, things in general will get done much faster and more efficiently.

Another thing to keep in mind is, don’t do anything you don’t want to do. If everyone participates in activities they enjoy, there is no reason to get stressed out or upset. However, the danger sets in when people begin doing things they really don’t enjoy, and that’s when things between families start getting out of balance. Everyone has a personal tradition he or she loves to follow each year, so people expect that others in the family enjoy those certain things, too. But it’s very likely that someone does not enjoy doing the same thing every year. So spice it up.




Maybe this year you guys can try something a little different. Nothing huge, but just something that you haven’t tried yet but have always wanted to do. Perhaps you want to drive around and look at all of the wonderful Christmas light displays that decorate most of Nevada County. Maybe you want your family to do something for a charity or soup kitchen for once. Whatever it is that you want to do this year, do it. Propose to your parents or kids what you want to do and see if anyone is remotely interested. Chances are, the idea of something different will be exciting for the rest of your family, but if the others are not stoked on your idea, don’t be hurt. Remember that it’s something that YOU wanted to do, and even if no one else wants to partake in your newly thought-of idea, you can still fulfill your dream of doing something else.

One more idea to think about is doing something together as a group. Try to go to the movies as a family. See how that works. Make Thanksgiving dinner as a family by giving everyone a specific side dish or entree to make. Decorate your home with as many collective ornaments you have. Adopt a family and give them a well deserved Christmas. Do something as a whole that will not create tension between family members. AND HAVE FUN.

Remember that families are always going to be a part of you, and you can’t change the way some family members are. But also remember that that group of people – who may be strange, overwhelming, hilarious, sweet or even just plain weird – make you who you are. They help shape many characteristics about yourself that you have never really thought about. Friends come and go, but families are always gonna be there, whether you want them to or not.

Have questions about parents or teenagers? Morgan Nettles is a 17-year-old graduate of Nevada Union High School. She writes a monthly column about parent/teen relationships. Write her in care of Youth Page, The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945, or e-mail her at


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