I want a peaceful home. You do, too. Nothing can so drain us as the conflict and stress that plague families.
Because I am a Christian psychologist, you can imagine that I will encourage you to regularly pray for your family. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 confirms that prayer is a vital part of peaceful living.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
If your family life isn’t peaceful primarily because of the choices of another family member, remember that we are only called to peace as far as it depends on us. We can’t change people directly, much as we might like to.
But there is something else we can do to promote peace in our homes.
When there is no routine, when we have to scramble to get out the door and are still late, when the house is a wreck and you have no idea what’s for dinner, peace will elude you. I know, because I’ve been there. My poor habits caused conflict with my husband, made me a short-tempered mom, and made me fearful that someone would come to my door and discover what a fraud I was.
If you want more peace in your home this year, develop good habits. I encourage you to read my post at HeyDonna.com titled “Habits: The Heart of the Home” for more on how to do that.
What habits would make your home more peaceful this year?
What is it about the holidays that makes us want to be close to family? Close enough to beat them over the head with a turkey drumstick anyway.
I would argue it’s the food.
The Food Fight History is a Long One
All our problems began with food.
We were cursed after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, yes. But more salient to this discussion, the first marital spat then ensued over who caused whom to blow their specific-fruit-free diet.
One brother stabbed the other in the back when the Father liked the food he brought to the table better.
The Israelites complained about nothing more than the lack of food variety in the desert.
And early Christians bickered over what foods were okay with God to eat.
The Food Fights Continue
Today, everyone seems to have their own diet: organic, vegan, raw, allergy-free, clean, low-carb, low fat, sugar-free, two-year-old (only what you don’t want me to eat) and my dad’s favorite–seefood (you eat only what you can see).
While it can be annoying to accommodate all these preferences and necessary restrictions, the friction we have about food in our families isn’t really about the food.
But you just said it WAS about the food.
I know. Irritating. If I were your family member, I’d give you plenty of reasons to come after me with that drumstick.
It’s NOT about the food, but we act as though it is. Why?
- It’s easier to gossip about Aunt Ginny bringing one can of corn to the feast than it is to admit she’s disconnected from the family, much less to wonder why.
- It’s easier for your sister-in-law to complain about your cooking than it is to admit she’s incredibly jealous of you.
- It’s easier to complain about the food being cold than it is to talk to your brother about showing up late for every gathering.
Food becomes a displacement for hurts and hostilities that are too threatening to admit or deal with. Remember that next time someone asks you to stab them a potato.
Stuffing: the Ultimate Food Fight
There may be no food more subject to personal preference than stuffing. You love it, you hate it. You make it from a box or from scratch. You have regular, cornbread, or gluten-free. You put in giblets, sausage, cranberries, or none of the above. You drench it in gravy or you don’t.
And most people think their stuffing (even if that’s NO stuffing) is the best stuffing. Why?
Because stuffing represents the holidays and holidays represent family and deep down we’re all still little kids who believe my-dad-is-bigger-than-your-dad and my-mom-cooks-better-than-your-mom and we’re willing to get a black eye to prove it.
Don’t believe me?
How do you feel if I tell you that my mother’s stuffing recipe is hand’s down the BEST stuffing ever? As you scan down to check out the recipe, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that YOUR (family’s) recipe is better or that I’m stupid to even eat stuffing. Am I right?? Am I, huh?
My Mom’s Best Ever Stuffing
1 Box Turkey flavor Stove Stop Stuffing Mix
1 package hot dog buns, torn into 1/2 finger-length pieces and left out overnight
1/2 loaf of bread, torn into 1/2 finger-length pieces and left out overnight
4 stalks celery chopped fine
1/2 medium onion chopped fine
1 stick butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp sage
1 32-oz box chicken broth plus 2 14-oz cans chicken broth
Tear up bread and leave out overnight to dry. The next day, preheat oven to 350F. Grease or spray one oven-proof, deep casserole dish if you plan to stuff your turkey or two dishes if you don’t. Saute celery and onions in butter until almost transparent. Meanwhile, put Stove Top stuffing, sage, and eggs on top of stale bread. Add sauted onion and celery. Warm 32-oz chicken broth on medium heat and pour on top of bread and mix well. Add additional chicken broth until it’s soupy. You’ll think it’s too watery, but if you bake it without enough liquid, your stuffing will be dry. If you plan to stuff your turkey, first make sure the stuffing and turkey are the same temperature (both warm or both chilled). Bake stuffing for one hour, covering with foil the last 20 minutes.
Beyond Stuffing It: How to Avoid the Family Food Fights This Year
You can’t control whether a family member forgets the rolls, whether Uncle Dave has a few too many, or even if your mother-in-law makes a nasty face when she bites into your dish. But you can control YOU and that’s a lot.
- Don’t Confront at the Holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are a little like weddings. Most people wouldn’t think of starting something with the bride before she walks down the aisle. Why? Because all her hopes and dreams are pinned on that day that she will remember forever. Your family has high hopes for happy holidays, too, and they are remembered like no ordinary days. Do you want everyone to remember the Christmas of 2012 as the one where you finally lost it and told the big mouth off and sent her running in tears to her car after having too much to drink in a snow storm… You get the idea. Save any necessary confrontations for a less emotional time.
- Keep Your Expectations Under Control. We’d be better off watching the beginning of A Christmas Carol than the end before a family holiday. Unfortunately, people aren’t on their best behavior at this time of year; they’re usually at their worst. They’re tired, stressed, strapped for cash, bombarded with the temptations of food and alcohol, and feeling pressured to eat someone else’s substandard stuffing (i.e., yours). Instead of envisioning a scene of peace and joy, imagine you’re walking into a room of toddlers who’ve gone without a nap. If you get out of there without raising your voice or hitting someone, you’re doing well.
- Avoid Resentment. 1 Corinthians 13 says that our good deeds are worthless without love. If you’re going to be bitter about hosting the holiday ONE MORE TIME or if it makes you crazy that your lovely homemade gifts aren’t appreciated, don’t do it. Avoid doing or giving anything that will make you resentful. Romans 12:18 says as much as possible, as far as it depends on you, to live at peace with everyone. Sometimes that requires avoiding someone. Keeping suggestion #1 in mind, either avoid seeing someone if it won’t create undue conflict or spend the majority of your time talking with people who don’t push your buttons.
- Create Your Own Holiday. Even if you’re single, you can plan a celebration to include the food, decorations, and mood of your choosing. Don’t limit yourself to a certain day either. Would you like to have a peaceful Thanksgiving meal with friends or with just your immediate family? Plan it for another time so you won’t mind as much if the family holiday itself isn’t all you hoped.
- Invite a Loving Family Member. Cain took it personally that God didn’t approve of his offering, but deep down Cain knew it was because he hadn’t brought what God asked. God absolutely loves your stuffing, even if that’s no stuffing at all. Invite Him to your holiday celebrations this year and you won’t even notice all the racket the relatives are raising. Spend extra time in prayer and worship, asking God to help you be on your best behavior. I know He will.
I plan to take my own advice this year, but I want to hear from you. What do you do to make family holidays less stressful? Please share in the comments.
I’ve been flying through life this week and don’t plan to land until May! I can honestly say that I forgot to spend 15 minutes outside a couple of times this week. Since I refuse to be a perfectionist with this, I will continue on.
This large flying disk I bought at Walgreens has been a hit with the kids. We tried to create a game with it that involved lots of players (you have to pick a spot and can only move one leg to try to catch it).
I used to be a jump rope fanatic as a kid. It’s still a great form of exercise, even if my mother’s bladder doesn’t think so. I bought myself a new jump rope at TJ Maxx and went at it with my daughter. She got a new jump rope for Easter, which is great because mine is too big for her.
We’ve been sticking around home a lot for our 15 minutes, so it was nice to travel this week. We enjoyed seeing cars practice at the Indy 500 track and the Creation Museum so much. I highly recommend it if you haven’t been!
Easter was a wonderful day to be outside.
I finally got to enjoy my favorite outdoor activity with the kids: hiking! My husband’s brother and sister-in-law invited us to hike and it was the perfect way to end a beautiful holiday. Hope you had a blessed Easter and got outside, too! You should be seeing the kids’ Easter goodies in use next week.
Have you been outside with the kids this week?
Psychologists say that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. I’m a psychologist and I say that’s bunk. If I hadn’t committed to this publicly, hadn’t had such fabulous weather, and hadn’t been enjoying myself, I would quit right now. But it’s been a great week. We’ve moved our tennis lesson outside each week which makes one day a no-brainer.
While the kids keep trying to guilt me into playing outdoor games every day, I am figuring out how to do other things outside. I’m measuring my kids for health insurance forms here.
Even though I started off thinking that I would be in every picture, I am not going to be legalistic about that. I played giant bubbles with Elaina again. You can get this set at Wal-mart and kids of every age love it.
Another benefit of being outside is that I get to play with my other kid more often. Daisy seems just as excited about outside time as the kids. Although, I have to be honest, and say that the kids aren’t always excited. They LOVE video games. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by seeing the kids get outside more on their own–even when they have friends over.
Swinging with the kids brings back fond childhood memories, but it also threatens to bring up my last meal. My husband and I have both noticed motion problems with age.
I missed several days of outside time this week due to attending a debate tournament with my oldest, but the last day of the week was the best. We loaded up the bikes and went for a family ride at the park. At 6:00 p.m., the 90F temps had cooled and it was ideal riding weather. I hope we do a lot more biking together this year. I have no idea why my daughter looks so put upon in this photo. She seemed plenty perky the rest of the time.
Linking up to Loving our Children Tuesdays. Enjoy!
Do you go for family bike rides? If not, could you, should you, would you? 🙂
This week I’ve learned how much I will suffer for the sake of this challenge–and enjoy, too. I tried to get away with hanging outside at the kids’ PE class and gabbing with girlfriends while the kids played. The photo below was going to be my 15 Minutes shot. My 12yo would have none of it and insisted I play baseball with them and a friend. Even though I was running around in boots, I honestly had a blast.
On Tuesday, we headed out with dad for a day at the Arch. It was warm, but extremely windy.
The day was cooler on Thursday, but reminded me of spring days in my childhood as we checked out the neighborhood daffodils in bloom.
Friday the kids played tag for co-op. I didn’t play, but comforted kids complaining that the rules were unfair. We played “stoop tag.” You can duck down and not be tagged 3 times. The problem was the taggers would swarm the stooper like a brood of vultures waiting for them to stand up. For some reason, I have horrible facial expressions when taking pictures of myself. Sorry you don’t see any kids running around either, but believe me, they’re there.
On Saturday, we played kick ball. I experienced the joys of little ones crying because they kept getting out and the frustration of the big ones dominating even ME.
On Sunday, it was cold and rainy, so I decided to have the kids blow bubbles with me in our covered drive-through. We had to use a timer for this one! The kids complained quite a bit, but you know what? It was frivolous and refreshing. I tried to create a game where the first one to pop 20 bubbles won and it became tackle bubble. Not good.
What I Learned This Week
- Being outside is really refreshing!
- Being outside brings back really wonderful childhood memories
- My kids love the time I spend outside with them
- I need more rain gear and outdoor sports equipment and toys
- I’d love to have some fellow outside moms to spur me on and give me ideas!
I grew up eating Hamburger Helper, the Cheeseburger Macaroni flavor, and I've never outgrown my love for it. I still make it because it's cheap, it's fast, and it's tasty. The problem is it's made with stuff I can't pronounce. I know there is no way it can be the best choice for my family.
So I was particularly intrigued by Laura's ability to break up with HH and start a new love affair with a recipe made from scratch. Honestly, after the taco corn fritter meal, I was pretty skeptical. But I made it exactly as directed, using whole wheat pasta (not my favorite because it can tend to be tough) and white cheddar cheese that I shredded quickly using my Pampered Chef Ultimate Mandoline. I happily used whole milk to ensure it would be as creamy as possible. I served it up, took a bite, and…
It wasn't exactly like Hamburger Helper. I was worried. But the more I ate, the more my old Hamburger Helper was like a high school honey–long forgotten! The whole wheat pasta was tender, my husband loved it, and the kids who normally eat it were satisfied (c'mon, if everyone ate it, I'd think I was dreaming). Leftovers were particularly yummy I thought.
The great news is it's good, it's better for us, and it doesn't take long to make. I cooked the noodles 15 minutes from the time they started simmering. That's when the milk and cheese mixture really started to thicken.
Do you have any other healthy meal makeovers to share with me?