For many families, this time of year includes holiday celebrations and gatherings that can nurture feelings of connection and joy if reasonable expectations are kept in mind.

Here are a few thoughts . . .

Rituals are important because they provide comfort and a feeling of unity. As rituals provide good feelings and a sense of belonging, the stressful parts of life melt away. Things like lighting a menorah, trimming a Christmas tree, or having a special dinner bring the family together and provide memories that your children will cherish. Rituals can also include community services that connect the family to the larger community. This provides children with experiences that help them look within their family and themselves as well as outside to others.

Gift giving is a part of ritual for many families. As you think about the gifts to buy your child, you might consider some toys that stimulate the mind, but don’t forget the gifts that meet your child’s emotional needs, such as something to play with, something for his or her room, or something to wear. Children need something simply to make them feel happy. You might also include a gift that can be shared as a way to help make your child aware of others and their joys and needs.

The holiday season is a season, not just a day. Include some activities throughout the season that make the season special. Do some activities together. Sledding, singing, ice skating, or playing board games can create fun times and fond memories.

The holiday season provides a retreat from the busy, same old everyday living. It is a season that nudges us to remember what is deeply important in our lives. As you share the season with your children, you will be filling them with stories and memories.