Christmas morning always found my siblings, parents, and I cuddled up in front of the wood-burning stove in our kitchen. My mom would bake Christmas cookies for breakfast, a sort of oatmeal-based treat that was really more cookie than breakfast. We’d open stockings and enjoy the warmth of the fire. We’d enjoy those few moments of quiet before heading out to see our larger family and play hours of BINGO.
You may not have played BINGO as much as my family did, but I would bet that most of you shared a tradition that we all dreaded as kids…having to give a hug or kiss to family members we hadn’t seen all year. So much of our culture is built around physical affection: kisses to grandma, thank you hugs to Uncle Kipling, goodnight snuggles with cousins. Those things can be wonderful or can be terrifying for children. Make sure your children understand that they can say “NO” to unwanted touches, hugs or kisses. They can give Auntie Mary a wave or high five instead of a hug. They can say “no thank you” if Cousin Jessie likes to give sloppy kisses.
Childhood is when I learned what I loved about the holidays. So much of what we know as adults is what we learned as children. This year as you settle in to enjoy the holidays with family, think about the traditions you are building.
Are you building traditions of kindness and generosity? Are you building traditions that encourage your family to get consent before hugging, kissing, or touching your children? Are you building traditions that empower your children and yourself?
This holiday season, give your family the gift of consent. It is a free gift that keeps on giving as they keep on growing.