How do we successfully include all family members into our holiday celebrations?
Every family includes relatives of all ages, from babies through grandparents and even great-grandparents. In many families, there are also members of different religions, cultures, national origins and other factors.
Our unique family histories include so many people who lived at different times, but the holidays – regardless of what holiday your family celebrates – are when everyone gets together.
The group photo above - c1950s, Teheran - shows a snapshot of four generations of my husband's family, taken in the garden of his family home. Family celebrations there routinely included everyone, from newborns to great-grandparents. It is one of the few large group photos existing - I apologize for the quality.
While it may be easier to plan for the younger generation, senior family members may need a bit more attention.
Rheta Rosen, PhD, offers some tips for enjoying the holidays with senior members. She's the coordinator at the Interpersonal Skills Teaching Centre of Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada).
Rosen’s tips include some good points:
- Ask younger relatives to bring seniors to the celebration. The trip may be a nice bonding opportunity.
- Some relatives have physical challenges, such as hearing loss. Make sure to seat them next to someone who can help them.
- Make sure that older guests are included in conversations. Ask them about their lives.
- A great tip – recommended by the MyHeritage team – is to bring out old photograph albums (or ask seniors to bring their own) and discuss them. This might help in identifying some elusive individuals, dates and places.
- Conversations about social networking and technology may be alienating for senior members – although many more seniors are conversant with these – so this might be a learning opportunity. Younger relatives may want to show seniors photos on their new cell phone and how it is done. This might encourage elders to ask questions and include them in the conversations.
- For seniors who may live in assisted housing or long term care facilities, Rosen encourages families to visit. Perhaps, if allowed, the family cat or dog can also visit. She suggests bringing familiar holiday foods from your family’s tradition, or decorating a place in their room with familiar decorations of past celebrations.
The holidays are for everyone, so try to help family members of all ages enjoy them and feel included.
What does your family do to include your senior relatives? The MyHeritage team would like to know what the holidays are like at your house. How do you include members of all ages? Comment below, on Twitter or on our Facebook page.
Happy holidays from MyHeritage!