Oh, boy. It’s “that” time of year again. The kids are asked “what do you want for Christmas?” (or Hanukkah or whatever you may celebrate…even a birthday! Doesn’t matter, really.) This is the big question our kids get asked each year.

Well, in this world of pretty cool technology, instead of an “album” by their favorite rock star, they are asking for some Apple device or another in which to download their favorite songs from iTunes. Just a TAD more expensive than the $10 albums we used to find under the tree. (Okay, I admit, I love this stuff, too…)

What if, during this crazy, busy season, you and your significant young person take some time together to “bond” over hot chocolate, lunch, a drive in the car, or on a wintry walk in the woods…whatever your child prefers. I have found that one of the best places to get kids (and husbands, for that matter) to open up is on a quiet walk in the woods. There’s something about physical activity that brings out the closeness in people. (I am sure I read somewhere that this has been scientifically proven, but there is no way I could ever find that study…) Now, not everyone has a forest preserve in their backyard, but maybe there is a park nearby, or just the sidewalk in your neighborhood. If that is not an option, a cup of cocoa at the kitchen table, with your undivided attention, works quite well.

You can use this time to talk about the upcoming new year. What are their plans, hopes, dreams, thoughts, about the upcoming year. If your child is in high school, you can approach the subject of college. Do they want to go? Where? What are their academic interests? You may have dreams of them becoming a doctor, but they see art school in their future…This is not the time to tell them YOUR thoughts, this is the time to LISTEN to THEIRS. Heaven knows we let them know EXACTLY what we are thinking much of the time! (Your room is a mess! You didn’t clear your plate! You didn’t walk the dog!) Remember, this is their life journey to walk. We are merely here to give birth, feed, house, and pay for all the stuff they need to become decent adults in this world. And to be supportive of them.

So, why am I encouraging this? And I didn’t even mention SEX! Talking about sex with your child/grandchild/niece/nephew can be very difficult. By building a respectful relationship you are able to build trust with your child. And once you have trust, it will be easier for a deeper and more personal conversation to take place at a later time.

(Disclaimer: You may see the “rolling of the eyeballs” on occasion during these peaceful, meaningful conversations. Don’t take it personally. It merely means you are the smartest adult in the world, the young person just doesn’t realize it yet. When they are college age they usually realize that you aren’t as dumb as they thought. But of course by then, you realize that your kid does indeed know more than you in many, many aspects, like technology, science, and math. Don’t let it get you down. Remember that once-upon-a-time, you knew how to add double-digits before they did.)

Take advantage of this magical holiday season. Take a walk and see some Christmas lights, stomp through the snow, walk on the beach (if you live somewhere warm, you lucky duck!)…and just enjoy the moment.

Until next time….