This is a guest post from Chris Delgado. Chris is a facilitator in the Family Wellness Program through the New Mexico State University Strengthening Families Initiative. He lives in Las Cruces, NM with his wife and young daughter. Chris writes this story as part of NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas." If you are interested in writing for us, send an email.
My favorite Christmas marked a transition and a new meaning in my life. It was the year 2001 and this is when I proposed to my girlfriend who is now my wife.
We had been high school sweethearts since the 10thgrade and we were going to the same college. It was our first semester in college that fall—so talk about a major transition in moving away from home, being the first to go to college in my family, and deciding to spend my life with the most important person I know.
But first, I had to get her parent’s permission before I asked for her hand in marriage.
It wasn’t the most optimal way to ask her mom and dad but I did it over the phone. I was so nervous! My wife is their eldest daughter so knowing that added even more pressure.
It was done, however, and I got approval albeit with some awkward pauses in between the conversation.
So that Christmas Eve along with a large pizza, a movie and the ring hidden under our couch, I got on one knee, said how much she meant to me and the journey I wanted to share together and popped the question...she said yes! One of the best presents ever! We’ve been married eight years now and it’s still one of the most memorable moments in my life.
I think the most memorable thing we do as a family is order pizza (we have since 2001) and watch random movies along with Christmas movies. Some families may have Christmas dinner but we have pizza. It’s great. You should try it once. You don’t have to mess with cooking or cleaning.
This tradition for us has special meaning. The reason this started was because my wife and I were poor college students that couldn’t make the almost four-hour trip back home for Christmas. We had to do something. Since pizza was cheap and we could “rent” movies at our apartment for free, this became our thing to do.
Since 2001, you’ll find a pizza to eat and a movie with us. As it turned out, the pizza idea has worked and now we include our family back home now that mange to visit our family more often. Pizza is not yet as popular as the traditional dinner; but at least we have a small part of what my wife and I started back in 2001.
Lastly, our 6-year-old daughter loves this idea! In her eyes, pizza trumps ham and stuffing any day of the week—especially during Christmas.
Question: What one thing makes the holiday season special for you?
Visit our "12 Dads of Christmas" and join in to share your most memorable Christmas by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #12DadsofXmas to connect!
The following is a post from Dave Sniadak, Minnesota-based award winning video and PR guy by trade and NFL videographer for fun, Dave is Creative Director at Axiom and writes at his blog HDHubby. Follow him on Twitter @DaveSniadak. Dave writes this story as part of NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas: 12 Dads. 12 Stories. 12 Memories." If you are interested in writing about your most memorable Christmas, send us an email.
For me, Christmas was always a magical time of year. Where I lived growing up, we almost always had snow - lots of it - but not bitter biting, freeze your nose off cold that kept you locked up in the house. I would spend hours rolling snowmen and exploring the backwoods behind our house, checking for tracks and remnants of elves sneaking around the yard. And while I never went into the holiday season with a set expectation of what I'd get from Santa, he certainly never disappointed.
My favorite Christmas was the year I got two of my most memorable gifts - cross country skis, and a Nintendo Entertainment System. While most of my friends would have holed themselves up in their rooms playing Super Mario Brothers, I strapped on my skis and explored the great outdoors. This took my winter treks to a whole new level. That said, I did spend a lot of time playing Tecmo Bowl over the next twelve months.
The one thing that was missing during all this self-exploration and technological enrichment? My dad. He was around, don't get me wrong, and as I learned later in life, he was pretty much responsible for making sure Santa took care of me. But at 11, 12, 13, who wanted to play Duck Hunt with your dad? And when it came to carving out tracks in the yard with my new skis, well, that was a solo adventure all the way. For my father, I believe, seeing the excitement and joy we had in playing with the presents "Santa" left under the tree was all he needed. Or was it? I haven't broached the subject with him out of fear of what he might actually say - that I turned him away from opportunities to play with me because I was so absorbed in my own world that I couldn't let him in.
Now, as a father myself, I see the same joy and exuberance in my own children's eyes when they tear into a new present. But as my kids celebrate the carnage that ensues during Christmas Morning, I feel a longing to play, just as much as they do. I actively participate in the building of Lego sets, toast to the holidays during tiny tot tea parties, and race toy cars along the table top. During all of this, I can't help but think, "Should I take a step back? Do I need to lessen my role in their role playing to encourage self-confidence and spur imagination?"
The holiday cliche says 'tis better to give than to receive. Can this be applied to our interactions with our kids on this most magical of mornings? The memories we receive by giving our time to our kids should be a two-fold reward - good for us, but great for them, as it hopefully sets a standard for parent-child engagement. When it comes to Christmas, I don't ever want to grow too old to play - hopefully you won't either.
Happy holidays to you and yours!
Question: What makes Christmas special for you?
Visit our "12 Dads of Christmas" page for more on connecting with your family and other dads like you! Join in and share your most memorable Christmas by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #12DadsofXmas to connect!
We're finishing up our "Thanks, Dad!" campaign this week. Through November, we’ve given you tips and advise for raising a thankful child, showing thankfulness in your home, creating a memorable Thanksgiving and now we want your family to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness that continues beyond the Thanksgiving holiday!
One of the best ways to express thankfulness is to give to others! Check out our five ways of saying thanks through giving and be intentional about teaching and modeling these ideas with your kids today.
- Give Your Time: Whether it's volunteering at the local homeless shelter, participating in a community clean-up day or taking an hour to make cookies for your neighbors, investing time to help or encourage others is a great way to cultivate a thankful attitude or to say thanks to those who have helped you. When you take time to get your kids involved in the process, they will have fun and you will connect as a family as well! It's important that you explain to our child what and why are you giving your time to help others. You can explain in more detail depending on the age of your child. The point here is to not only give, but to teach your child about giving in the process.
- Give Your Talents: If your kids have musical or singing talent, nursing or retirement homes always welcome having young people to play or sing for their residents. If you're a handyman, consider offering help a single mom in your neighborhood with seasonal "honey-dos" and bring your kids along to help. There's an opportunity to serve for every kind of talent!
- Give Your Things: A couple times a year, encourage your kids to sort their clothes, books, and toys and set aside items in good condition and donate to a homeless shelter. This will help your kids realize how much they have to be thankful for and to experience the joy of giving to others who have less than them. It will also provide you a way of getting your kids to clean their rooms; at least twice per year. Go ahead and mark two cleaning dates on your calendar!
- Give Your Thoughts: Giving doens't have to mean money. Encourage your children to take a moment to say something thoughtful to the people around them, whether it's "thanks," "you look nice today," or "I appreciate your friendship." Set the example by regularly saying thoughtful and encouraging things to your family members and others. Remember, this attitude starts with you--the parent! How you talk and interact with people teaches your children to react the same manner.
- Give Your Treasure: For those with more money than time, consider supporting charitable causes and organizations financially. Encourage your children to donate a portion of their allowance or income to a specific cause. Talk with your kids about the charitable organizations you contribute to and why you give to those groups. Again, it's important to give, but it's also very important that you children know the why behind the what. Use giving as a teachable moment for your family.
As you and your children give, you will find it easier to notice all the things you can be thankful for in your life. Start saying "thanks" by giving today!
What's one thing you could change in your weekly schedule to help you and your family show thanks through giving?
Visit our "Thanks, Dad!" page for more on how you can connect with your family and other dads just like you! Don't forget to say, "Thanks, Dad!" by recording a video, sharing a picture, or writing a short note on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #ThxDad to tell the world why the dad in your life deserves thanks!
photo credit: Tim Green aka atoach
Thanksgiving is here! Yeah, I can’t believe it either. It’s been a busy month and December is almost upon us. This month, we’ve shared ideas for raising a thankful child, showing thankfulness in your home, and now we have ideas for creating memorable Thanksgiving traditions! Check out our ideas and then read Thanksgiving traditions that NFI staff share with their family. After you read our traditions, tell us yours in the comment section!
Here are five ideas to get you started:
- Get Active: One of the things we often take for granted is our health and ability to engage in physical activity. Being active together as a family is a great way to create a memorable time together. You know you’re going to watch football at some point during the day. You also know you’re going to consume great portions of turkey and dessert. Consider getting outside and throwing the football during commercials or halftime to be little more active this year. You can always take a nap between games later!
- Get Creative: I’ve heard of families having their kids make handmade place cards for every person at the table or letting your kids act out a skit to say thanks to those who made the meal. The point here is to get creative and to get the whole family involved. Consider having everyone (parents and kids) draw a picture of the things they're thankful for this year and then post drawings in a high-traffic location. Make it competitive by offering two categories for best drawing awards; one for kids and one for the parents’.
- Get Alone: Okay, maybe this step is over-reaching, but if at all possible, try and get a moment to yourself…just to think! Yes, even if it’s only a few minutes, take time to reflect on what is truly important. Seriously consider the question: What do I have to be thankful for this year? If you can make this step happen, you’ll be ready to lead your family from a deeper perspective. Perhaps it’s your family’s tradition to spend a few minutes before or during the Thanksgiving meal to take turns sharing what you are thankful for or to express thanks for a specific person at the table. No matter your tradition, be sure you take time during all the busy schedules to be grateful!
- Get REALLY Traditional: There is no need to reinvent the wheel during the holidays. Keep it old school. You can learn a lot from your parents about traditions! What made the holidays special when you were a kid? Consider incorporating those traditions into your family’s list this year. Continuing traditions from the past is a great way to help connect your children with previous traditions that your kids may not have experienced.
- Get Your Mind Off Yourself: There’s no greater time than the holidays to consider ways you can serve and help others. Whether you spend time buying gifts or serving food, find a cause or opportunity to serve with your whole family. Serving as a family can make for a very memorable family tradition.
NFI Staff Answers: What Makes a Memorable Thanksgiving?
Now that you have five ideas for how to create meaningful family traditions, take a look at how some NFI staff answered the question, “What makes Thanksgiving memorable to your family?
“We take out a bit of our furniture and lay 3 long tables end to end to accommodate about 18 people (in my small house). Everyone brings something and it is quite noisy. Before we pray we go around simply to say what we are thankful for. Many feel a little embarrassed to share- but everyone is smiling when done. This year for sure - we will think of my mom and how we will miss not only her, but her cole slaw!” Ave, program support consultant
“The girls give the turkey a name and then break the wish bone together. Grandfather plays the piano and we sing hymns before sitting down to eat.” Kayla, project specialist
“Each family member has a wooden acorn at their place setting and we pass around a little basket for everyone to put in their acorn as say what they are thankful for. Mom often makes cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then we enjoy the traditional American thanksgiving dinner. Every year my family watches the Dallas Cowboys play football… another American tradition!” Renae, outreach manager
“Watching football. Roasting chestnuts.” Vince, vice president
“Sharing around the table what you are thankful for. Going to see a movie (Bond, this year) then dessert afterward.” Melissa, vice president
“We like to watch ET after the dinner is finished and everything is put away. Its a good family movie that everyone enjoys.” Connie, senior graphic designer
“Each family member has three kernels of corn at their seat and shares three things he or she is thankful for, putting them into a basket as they share.” Michael, programming director
“We have dinner, go bowling, come back for dessert, and then play a family game of Pictionary so that members of all ages can play.” Lisa, programming director
You can see by reading our staff traditions that creating memories means a lot of different things to different people! Whether it's the classic American festivities of food, football and movies, or something unique and special to your family, establishing traditions and creating memories are a great way to make the Thanksgiving holiday meaningful for you and your children. The most important part of the holidays is that you spend time together as a family. That's what will make the holidays memorable and special for your kids - time with you!
What traditions make Thanksgiving memorable for your family?
Visit our "Thanks, Dad!" page for more on how you can connect with your family and other dads just like you! Don't forget to say, "Thanks, Dad!" by recording a video, sharing a picture, or writing a short note on on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #ThxDad to tell the world why the dad in your life deserves thanks!
photo credit: rustiqueart
Our "Thanks, Dad!" campaign is in full swing. We hope you're learning to be more intentional about creating an atmosphere of thankfulness in your home. We recently gave you helpful tips for raising thankful children. However, thankfulness isn't simply a nice idea to instill in your children - it's something to be acted out daily. If we're intentional and thoughtful, there are many ways we can show our thankfulness as a family each day. Check out our five ideas for how you and your family can show thankfulness. Then, tell us what your family does to model thaknfulness in the comment section below.
1) Do Something Nice: Doing something nice for someone else is a great way to show you are thankful. Be sure to talk with your child and explain that doing something nice for someone shows you are thankful. Consider with your child ways you can do something nice to help someone. Ask your son or daughter, "What do you think so-and-so would appreciate you doing for them?" or "What can you do to show so-and-so you're thankful for how they helped you?" You may be surprised at the answer you get from you child -- children have a way to being more thoughtful than parents in some cases. Be ready to listen and work together with your child to come up with something unique and thoughtful to do for someone else this week.
2) Write a Note: Make thank-you notes a habit in your house. I can't lie, this step isn't easy. I'm the worst at thank-you notes. I love receiving them so much, you'd think I would be better at writing them. In the midst of everything else on the family calendar, writing a note probably isn't near the top. However, as a way to help you, perhaps you can get your kids involved. Have them write thank-you notes after birthday parties or for Christmas presents -- let them use their creativity and create something special for their friends or teacher. Try and see this as a time to let them express their creative side -- not simply a task to mark of your growing to-do list. For instance, younger kids can draw and color pictures while older kids could write a note in their own words. It's never too early to start teaching your children the importance of thank-you notes. Don't think you have that kind of time? Try the cell phone apps that are available for download, you can still get your kids involved in the process by letting them pick the images and/or write the messages. You'll save a ton of time and still have something thoughtful to send someone.
3) Say Something Kind: From a young age, encourage your children to say "thank you" when someone compliments them, gives them something, or does something for them. Don't allow your children to shyly whisper "thanks" with their head down - make sure they look at the person in the eye and specifically thank them for the compliment/item/action. Help them understand that eye contact and a cheerful voice are an important part of genuine thankfulness.
4) Help Those in Need: There's no better way to model gratefulness to your family (and others) than to do something to help others who can't help you back. Ask your children to pick out food to contribute to a local food drive, spend time serving at a homeless shelter as a family, or encourage your kids to rake the elderly neighbor's yard. The point here is to reach out to someone in need and together as a family to serve. If cleanliness is next to godliness, serving others is next to thankfulness!
5) Give as a Family: Set up a large jar in a prominent place in your house, let the kids decorate it with stickers or ribbons, and label it "The Thankful Jar." Encourage family members to put extra change or money they earn from their allowance in the jar. When the jar is full, discuss and agree to a charity or organization for which to donate the money. Or, let each family member take turns choosing a different charity to contribute to each month. Explain to your children that part of being thankful is giving to others.
What's one way you and your family show thankfulness every day?
Visit our "Thanks, Dad!" page for more on how you can connect with your family and other dads just like you! Don't forget to say, "Thanks, Dad!" by recording a video, sharing a picture, or writing a short note on on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #ThxDad to tell the world why your dad deserves thanks!
photo credit: mtsofan
If you've been a parent for longer than one second, you understand children have a way of not being satisfied. Most likely, your child will not come out of the womb as a grateful child. And when she learns to speak, her first words will probably not be "please" or "thank you" -- this is life. Trust me on this one, I write from a few years of experience. The time will come when your child isn't satisfied. You bought the green toy -- she wanted the pink -- and only the pink will do!
Aside from throwing your hands up and saying, "forget it, we have birthed an ungrateful child who will never be thankful!" Take comfort in knowing you are not alone. I repeat: You are not alone. While your child may currently display ungrateful tendencies, he dosen't have to be ungrateful forever. With care and teaching, your daughter or son can learn to be an upstanding lady or gentleman.
How we show thankfulness is vital to whether our children will act and treat others with gratitude. When it comes to teaching your child to be thankful, Gandhi's teaching comes in handy, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Check out our four tips on how to raise a thankful child.
- Model Thankfulness. Say "please," "thanks" and "you're welcome" every day. Be sure this vocabulary is used by you and in your home. Parent, if you want your kids to be thankful, they have to see it first. I'm reminded of the saying, "Good manners are not only taught, they can be caught." It's vital that you not only teach your child to say "thank you" and "please" every day and at various moments, you must also use these words yourself. Thank your child for doing his chores well. Make sure your kids, hear you say "Thank you" to their mother. Don't limit thanks for actions - thank your family for being kind, patient, caring, or whatever character quality you notice about them that day.
- The "Thankful" Talk. During dinner or in the car driving to and from an activity, ask each member of the family what they were most thankful for that day. Make asking a daily habit. Taking a moment to reflect on the day will help everyone find something positive, even if it was a tough day. Plus, it will give you extra insight into what's going on in your child's life. As the parent, be the one to always stir the conversation to the positive side and give encouragement. Remember the objective of this conversation -- you're teaching your child to be thankful!
- Advertise Your Thankfulness. Hang a dry-erase board in a prominent place in your home and call it "The Thankful Board." I once worked at a company that had a "Kudos" board for its employees. This provided a great way to create an environment of encouragement and thankfulness. You can have your family write messages on the board to either say thanks to each other for something big or small. Also, you can use it to share something to your family for which they are thankful.
- Teach Thankfulness. Help your child understand why it is important to say "thank you." Explain to your child the "why" behind the "what." Of course, how much you explain will depend on the age of your child, but the point here is to not simply demand and be a dictator, but to teach your child why being thankful is important. With your teenager, try asking how he feels when someone says "thank you" to him. Use this time as a opportunity to teach him that other people also want to feel noticed, appreciated, and valued and that saying "thank you" makes someone else feel happy.
What one thing will you work on that will model thankfulness to your child today?
Visit our "Thanks, Dad!" page for more on how you can connect with your family and other dads just like you! Don't forget to say, "Thanks, Dad!" by recording a video, sharing a picture or writing a short note commenting on this blog, Facebook or on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.
photo credit: Vermin Inc
Welcome to the seventh installment of our 10-week podcast series, "Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell."
We are in the midst of the holiday season, and stress levels may be beginning to rise. But we don't just want you to survive the holidays - we want you to thrive! Let's hear what Mark has to say about making the most of the holiday season.Click here to download the podcast on Marks game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to thriving through the holiday season