No matter what your religious preference and practice (and even if you just see football as your religion), it’s pretty much a given that you’ve heard of the 10 Commandments: Five great do’s and five pretty awesome do not’s in an all-encompassing guideline on how to live that, while not guaranteed to prevent problems, will help you navigate some of the trickier issues of existence.
While I would, of course, never in 2013 claim to have the same insight as the author, it struck me as important that, at this time of year, a make-you-smile,-nod-your-head-and-say-Oh-yeah-I-can-do-that 10 Commandments of Entertaining Priorities might just be appropriate.
Do serve food with meaning and purpose. Put one fewer pie or cookie or even cake on the table. Instead, take the same amount of money you would use to make it and donate to such places as a food pantry or a homeless or battered women’s shelter. How about you give $20 to a student you know who is struggling with debt or deliver a fruit basket or the fixings for a great meal to a family of an active-duty serviceman or woman who serve and protect and who we can never thank enough?
Do power down the electronics for at least an hour a day, every day. Actually have conversations and interact with your family, face to face, at a table, with a meal.
Do write down the family recipes and pass them along this year. Teach your kids and grandkids exactly how to measure a pinch and a dollop and a smidge. Nothing says I love you like handing over the bowl and beaters with half the batter still clinging to the sides. A recipe isn’t special if nobody can make it after you’re gone.
Do have fun nonalcoholic options available. While liquor seems to be an essential in many celebrations, some people struggle with overindulgence. Try serving sparkling grape juice, apple juice, hot cider, punch or even fancy ice cream or coffee drinks; make them the stars of the beverage table.
Do remember those people who make a difference to your kids and thank them. Teachers, especially, deserve a big thank-you.
Don’t judge. Easier said than not done. Family party time is not the time to voice your concern, objection or even curiosity as to personal choices, no matter how much the significance escapes you. Save your questions, objections or even rampant curiosity for a quieter, more private one-on-one meeting with whomever has given you pause.
Don’t play favorites. Invite the forgotten neighbor, or friend whose family is out of town. Everyone needs to feel they are wanted, even the obnoxious. A cup of coffee in the afternoon or a quick come on over for dessert goes a long way to bridging a strained relationship or building a new one.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Acknowledge and thank yourself for all that you do. Take a moment to appreciate the unique way you contribute to the betterment of your family, work and the world in general. Indulge in a nap, a massage or even a piece of chocolate just because you deserve a moment in time for the world to revolve around you.
Don’t sweat the cleanup. Those dishes and laundry will be there in the morning. Nobody cares. Let some of your cleaning take a holiday too. At the end of your life, are you really going to say, Gee, I wish I’d done more loads of laundry, and I really regret not making my bed? Don’t think so.
Don’t forget the three magic words. They are not pass the salt, move your butt, pick it up or even put that down. The words I love you are some of the most powerful on the planet, no matter the language. Put in the effort to form the words and say, for no particular reason other than you can, I love you, I appreciate you, and how did I get so lucky to have you in my life.
Use the words to say what’s in your heart; I guarantee they will be the best gift you give this year.