All About Mental Health

Making Christmas Merrier

Making Christmas Merrier
Wish List
Tracking Narrative
Settling Disputes
Children and Grief - handout
When Kids Won't Listen
Make It Happen
Scaffolding for Success

"Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home."  ~Carol Nelson

"Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times."  ~Kate L. Bosher

"I do like Christmas on the whole.... In its clumsy way, it does approach Peace and Goodwill.  But it is clumsier every year."  ~E.M. Forster

Angie shared the story below during the teleconference.  She has now given it to us in writing and it belongs here --  opening this page about happiness at Christmas. 


A Christmas Story
by Angie Richardson 

It had been a difficult year for my family.  My ex- husband was career Air Force and we had been divorced for two years.  We shared custody of our three teen and pre-teen children, so they were excited to move with their daddy when he received orders to Alaska.  They arrived in Alaska in November, leaving me in Arizona to face the holidays alone before I re-located in February.  I sent many care packages to my children and as Christmas drew near I would mention the “Christmas box” that I was sending.  The anticipation grew each time we talked before Christmas, so when I called on Christmas eve my youngest daughter was upset that her dad went to town to “pick up our present from you and he wouldn’t take us with him because it is too cold!”  I smiled to myself as I listened to her, because I was calling her from Anchorage.  I boarded the plane and their father met me when I arrived in Fairbanks.  We drove to Eielson in the 40 below zero temperature.  He pulled the car into the garage and I followed behind him as he walked into the house.  It was impossible to see that I was behind him because he had his winter gear on.  My youngest daughter was waiting with her sister and brother close behind.  “Where is the present?”  she asked excitedly.  At that point, her dad smiled and stepped aside to reveal me standing there, and the hugging started. No other presents were necessary. We were just happy to be together.    




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"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other." ~Burton Hillis

Head Start Behavioral Health Teleconference ~ November 13, 2009
   Holding Our Own, Sandra Kleven, LCSW

1)  Introduction
2)  Share some happy memories.  
              Consider what these have in common. 
3)  Share some problems of the past. 
               Think about ways to avoid or solve them. 
4)  Christmas is emotional.  Why?
5)  Letting go.  "I can't fight this feeling anymore."
6)  Ten steps to limit stress. 
7)  Links to other resources. 

"We hear the beating of wings over Bethlehem and a light that is not of the sun or of the stars shines in the midnight sky.  Let the beauty of the story take away all narrowness, all thought of formal creeds.  Let it be remembered as a story that has happened again and again, to men of many different races, that has been expressed through many religions, that has been called by many different names.  Time and space and language lay no limitations upon human brotherhood."  ~New York Times, 25 December 1937

Click for link to Christmas carol lyrics

Click for large version

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A visual of where I am sitting while teleconferencing:

Sandy's Office
Click for larger version


Here I am -- Sandy Kleven

"When I was a very small child, my grandmother took me to visit a very old, blind woman.  I was asked to sing for her. As I sang, tears streamed from her unseeing eyes.  "Why is she crying?"  I asked my grandmother. "Because she is so happy," my grandmother answered. There are very few early experiences that I remember so well.  I can even tell you the song I was singing, 'Beautiful Savior.'"     Sandy Kleven


Click picture to go see this book on Amazon.
Note that you can by a used copy for a penny!

"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice."  ~Author Unknown

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." 
                                      ~Dr. Seuss

A Few Good Ideas

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Ten ways to reduce stress

1) Accept reality.
What is, is.  Those who should be helping, let us down.  The children fight with each other.  No one seems to show the Christmas spirit we'd been imagining.  We can add to the discord by raising a voice in complaint -- or we can smile to ourselves, take a deep breath and remember that nobody's perfect.   

2) Find a getaway.  

Retreat to a quiet place in your mind. Step outside.  Pick up a mindless task. Take a walk.  Rest for ten minutes.  Put plugs in your ears.  Listen to music -- especially of the season.  

3) Explore your feelings.  

Sad?  How come?  Angry?  Was there a trigger?   Warm glow?  Where did it come from?  Happy anticipation?  For what?  Don't judge any feeling as good or bad.  They are your heart's silent commentary on your experience.

4) Find balance in activities.    

After rushing, working hard, being in a crowd, do the opposite for awhile.  After being alone for awhile,seek out other people.  After being in a noisy setting, go somewhere quiet.  

5) Plan.  

There is joy in making a plan and a sense of fulfillment in carrying it out.  The negative feeling of losing control can be remedied with a plan.  

6) Do for others.  

A central element of Christmas is giving.  Kindness and generosity bring good feelings.  Show your children how acts of kindness make them feel by participating with them in the act of giving.  (Cooking, cleaning, visiting, entertaining)  

7) Talk to elders.  

Keep tradition alive by asking elders to talk about how things were when they were young.  Don't just expect the children to listen.  Sit with them and listen, too.  

8) Make a list.   

Capture your own good ideas on a tablet or journal that you keep with you. Or if someone else says something you want to remember, be ready to write it down.  This can help you give meaningful gifts, add something new to a meal, remember to visit someone.  Sometimes someone is giving you a "hint."  Don't miss it.  

9) Make handcrafted gifts.  (But if you don't have time for this, don't stress over it.)  

Some handcrafted gifts are fast, easy, and well received.  Children do well to give what they have made, so they can share in giving.  

10) What is the meaning of Christmas, to you?   
Make some notes about this so you can share your thoughts with your children and others.   


Holding Our Own 
Sandra L Kleven, LCSW
3978 Defiance Street
Anchorage, Alaska 99504
907 332 6735
907 764 - 1945