Karen Armstrong, a human development extension agent with North Dakota State University, posted an excellent Thanksgiving piece two years ago. Her suggestions and insights bear repeating. Plus, I liked her Thanksgiving Quiz! She was kind enough to allow me to republish it.
The holiday season can be stressful enough on its own. Families who have changed the make up of their household because of divorce or marriage since last year have some new challenges. If this describes your family, watch your children for signs of stress this season. Often times the shopping and decorating is too much for them. Encourage your children to talk about what they are feeling and keep those lines of communication open so they can approach you when they need to.
Because of the holidays, you may feel that you and your children are supposed to be happy, but allow time to deal with the adjustments. For example, it’s normal and healthy for children to miss the other parent; acknowledge their feelings and let them know it’s okay.
Financial strains become a reality to most families during this time. Communicate with your children’s other parent about the gifts that will be purchased. Consider agreeing on a price limit for each parent. This will eliminate the temptation to “out do” the other parent and feeling the need to overcompensate.
Only in special circumstances is it recommended that children be split up at the holidays. They will already be missing the other parent, to miss a sibling will only add to the uncertainty about their new life. Evaluate this situation very carefully.
Plan ahead of time how holidays are to be spent. Make a point to schedule time with each parent during the holiday season. For parents who feel comfortable sharing the holiday, this can be a good plan if possible. However, be cautious about the time you spend together, especially if the divorce was recent. This can be confusing to the child who is hoping for reconciliation.
If your home has changed because of marriage and you have created a blended family, there are also ways to make your holidays smoother. Choose to continue some special traditions that you had before and some that your new spouse had before your marriage. Changing the entire routine often creates an atmosphere of anger and resentment toward the stepparent. Encourage everyone to share the significance of the tradition so no one feels left out. Decide to create some new, inexpensive traditions that will be easy to carry out every year. The parent who will not be with the children at the holidays has certain responsibilities. Make plans to spend time with friends, family or volunteering. The children will feel anxious about your feelings. They will need reassurance that you will not be lonely.
If you have accepted the responsibility of parenting solo, don’t focus on the absent parent at this time. You may not have planned for the holidays to be the way they are, but you can make the most of it. Communities often have groups for single parents that provide activities during the holidays.
When the holidays are over, you may feel exhausted, let down, even depressed. It is typical to believe you feel this way because the holidays were disappointing to your family or kids. If that’s the case, think about what could be done differently in the future. Also remember that this may be your body’s way of telling you to take some time for yourself now and relax.
Turkey Quiz – How much do you really know about Turkey?
Here are some questions to review the basics of safe Thanksgiving food handling.
1. When thawing a turkey under cold water, how often should the water be changed?
a. Every 10 minutes
b. Every 30 minutes
c. Every wo hours
2. If you’d like some leftovers, about how much turkey (including bone weight) should you allow per person?
a. 0.5 pound
b. 1 to 1 1/2 pounds
c. 3 to 4 pounds
3. True or False: “Dressing” and “stuffing” are interchangeable terms that relate to the bread mixture served with turkey.
4. Leftover turkey should be removed from the carcass and refrigerated:
a. within six hours following roasting
b. within four to five hours following roasting
c. within one to two hours following roasting
5. How many turkeys are annually pardoned by the president of the United States?
6. How long can leftover turkey be safely stored in the refrigerator?
a. Three to four days
b. Five to six days
c. Seven to 10 days
7. True or False: Reheating a whole turkey on the carcass is not recommended.
8. Which is lowest in fat and calories?
a. Dark meat without skin
b. Dark meat with skin
c. White meat without skin
9. To what internal temperature should a whole turkey be cooked?
a. 120° F
b. 180° F
c. 220° F
10. True or False: Sometimes pop-up thermometers prematurely pop up, before a turkey has reached a safe internal temperature.
11. About how much turkey is eaten on Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.?
a. 360 million pounds
b. 490 million pounds
c. 690 million pounds
12. True or False: A baked pumpkin pie is safe to leave out at room temperature.
Here are the answers: 1. b; 2. b; 3. True; 4. a; 5. a; 6. a; 7. True; 8. c; 9. b; 10. True; 11. c; and 12. False because of its milk and egg content it should be kept in the refrigerator.
For more information about turkey preparation, visit the National Turkey Federation Web site at www.eatturkey.com. To read Karen’s original post, which also includes a great recipe for turkey salsa soup, click here
Please click here to read an excellent comment posted to this story by Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC, a psychotherapist in Connecticut, who works with families in transition. From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’sJourney through Divorce was awarded Honorable Mention in the self-help category by the Independent Publishers Association. Her second book Profileactics: A Guide for the Prevention of Ill-Conceived Personal Ads was just published in October 2009.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.