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Charcuterie boards have recently become one of my favorite ways to create a meal. I have created a charcuterie board for various meals and snacks.  According to Eat Cured Meat, the modern definition of a charcuterie board is, “a selection of food that offers contrasts, various textures and different colors. Consumed in a group, the focus of the charcuterie board is food that that is easy to eat, finger food is the goal.”  In other words, it’s simply a mixture of numerous foods, all artfully arranged on a serving board. They are fun, easy to assemble, and can be filled with all sorts of delicious and nutritious foods!

food arranged in containers in a sqaure container

When I assemble my charcuterie board, my goal is to make it colorful and nutritious. Portion sizes are often smaller but include a variety to choose from. One of my favorites is a portable “breakfast charcuterie board.” The great thing about preparing it ahead of time is it’s already assembled and ready to grab from the refrigerator before work. In the picture, you’ll see I have included an egg bite with veggies, 2 whole wheat mini pancakes, vanilla Greek Yogurt, and berries. I also put any sauces or additional add-ons in souffle containers with lids to keep them separated. I have also included all 5 food groups from MyPlate! I prepare my portable board the night before so I can quickly grab it before heading to work.

Another favorite I like to make is a snack charcuterie board. You can customize it based on how many you’re serving, what you have on hand, what’s on sale, and personal preference. This snack charcuterie board includes a variety of foods that support good brain and heart health. The board includes the following foods:

  • Veggies paired with hummus: I used cucumbers, carrots, and celery. Peppers and cherry tomatoes would add even more color. Hummus can also be replaced with a spinach artichoke dip or other dip of choice.
  • Black olives have plenty of healthy fats in them that support your heart and brain health. I recommend rinsing under water prior to serving to reduce the salt
  • Berries are quick an easy finger food that are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and other important nutrients. You can also add grapes into the mix!
  • Trail mix made with dark chocolate, mixed nuts, and whole grain cereal. Dark chocolate contains Flavanols that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. This is satisfying treat full of protein.
  • Pistachiosresearch suggests consuming about one palmful or ¼ cup of nuts at least five times per week for optimal health. Pistachios, as well as trail mix can also help you meet this recommendation.
  • Tuna salad- is great to use as a spread on a whole grain cracker. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 90% of American’s don’t meet the seafood recommendation. This is a great way to boost your seafood intake
  • Yogurt topped with granola – yogurt provides calcium and protein and can be topped with granola!
  • Turkey and cheese are nice to roll up and add to the board. Instead of rolling the cheese, another option is to use various sliced cheeses to your board.
Food arranged on plates

Next time you are hosting a gathering, try creating a snack charcuterie board for your guests. Also, challenge yourself to create portable charcuterie board for one of your meals. Breakfast ones are great to make ahead since we are often short on time in the morning. It’s a fun way to plan ahead, while incorporating MyPlate into your meal planning.

Written by: Shannon Smith, RD, CDCES, Program Coordinator, OSU Extension, Wood County

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Wood County

Sources:


https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf


https://eatcuredmeat.com/what-is-a-charcuterie-board-with-pictures/

https://howtocreate.com/ –> How to Make a Charcuterie Board

At a recent conference, the guest speaker said, “I have the power to change my own weather and so do you.” Meaning, we each have control over our emotional and behavioral reactions to our thoughts creating either a nice breezy day or a stormy day.  Let’s face it, we can’t stop every thought that pops into our heads.  However, we can pause and ask ourselves four things:

  • Is my thought rational or irrational?
  • What am I feeling because of this thought?
  • What is this feeling telling me about how I view this situation?
  • How do I want to react to this feeling?

It is through these questions that we have the power to change our own weather. Many times, we have created our own go-to pattern which results in stormy weather.

For example, someone cuts us off in traffic:

  • Thought: “What a jerk!” “They could hurt someone!”
  • Emotion: Anger and Fear
  • (Go-to) Reaction: Become irritable, yell, or worse, road rage!

Here is where we can choose to change our weather:

  • Thought: “What a jerk!” “They could hurt someone!”
    • Is my thought rational or irrational? We don’t know why they cut us off. Maybe they are on their way to an emergency and are distracted. Maybe we were in their blind spot (it has happened to all of us). Or maybe they are that bad of a driver.
    • NEW Thought: “WOW, that wasn’t any fun, but I am glad I have cat-like, smooth driving skills!”
  • Emotion: Anger and fear
    • What am I feeling because of this thought? The need for safety is at our core, hard-wired into each of us, think fight, flight, freeze response. Typically fear and anger arise when our safety is feeling threatened, so it wouldn’t be uncommon to identify anger as the emotional, and logical reaction, to this situation.
    • What is this feeling telling me about how I view this situation? This anger may be telling you that you feel afraid. It may also be some residual fear from a negative driving experience from your past and really doesn’t have to do with the current experience.
    • NEW Emotion: That was really scary, but I am OK.
  • Reaction: Become irritable, yell, or worse, road rage!
    • How do I want to react emotionally or physically? Becoming irritable, yelling at the other driver, or displaying road rage might immediately make us feel like we have taken corrective action, but in the long run, has it created stormy weather? Will this situation matter in 5 hours, 5 days or 5 weeks from now? Have we just endangered others because of our reaction?
    • NEW Reaction: I let it go and move on with the rest of my drive, thankful that I am safe.

WE do have the POWER to change our own weather, by choosing how we will react to our thoughts and emotions. Although it will take some practice to not rely on my “go-to” reactions, I think my future forecast is less ‘partly cloudy with a chance of rain’ and more ‘warm temperatures and sunshine!’  

Written by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources

Golden, B. (2021, March 20). Fear and Anger: Similarities, Differences, and Interaction. Psychology Today.  Retrieved on January 6, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/overcoming-destructive-anger/202103/fear-and-anger-similarities-differences-and-interaction

Governors State University. (nd). Rational Vs. Irrational: The 3 Key Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Beliefs. Retrieved on January 6, 2022, from https://www.govst.edu/uploadedFiles/Academics/Colleges_and_Programs/CHHS/Departments/Addictions_Studies_and_Behavioral_Health/Recovery_Coaching_Rational_vs_Irrational_3_questions.pdf

Mayo Clinic. (2019, March 16). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved on January 6, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610

Trauma Recovery. (nd). Fight, Flight, Freeze Responses. Manitoba Trauma Information and Education Centre, Retrieved on January 6, 2022, from https://trauma-recovery.ca/impact-effects-of-trauma/fight-flight-freeze-responses/

2022

Do you pick a resolution each year? I know I do. This year I chose to create a healthier life for myself. After about two weeks or so, I tend lose focus and step off course. If you are anything like me, it can be difficult to get back on track. I am going to share a few tips and tricks that I find helpful to sticking with my new year resolution.

When I am choosing my resolution, I choose something that has smaller targets to push me to accomplish the end goal in mind. If I chose to live a healthier life, that is my end goal. I like to set up list of objectives to accomplish each month, that will get me closer to the end goal. The objectives that I incorporated into my monthly plan are:

            1. Don’t buy soda for a month

            2. Go to the gym, take a walk, or any physical activity three-four times a week

            3. Write a journal entry three nights a week

When you break down your resolution into smaller sections, it does not look as intimidating. The above objectives cover three months out of the year. With just 12 objectives in mind, you can reach your end goal, without realizing it. There are several other tips and trick to help you stick to your New Year’s resolution.

Steps for making your New Year’s Resolution Stick:

  1. Dream big
  2. Understand why you shouldn’t make a change
  3. Commit yourself
  4. Give yourself a medal
  5. Learn from the past
  6. Give thanks to what you do

Something to keep in mind is that you want a goal that will be realistic. Have you ever heard of a S.M.A.R.T. Goal? This is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time. This means that you want to set specific goals that can be watched and measured. It also needs to be something that can be achievable and relevant to your life. Keep the time frame realistic and accurate to fit your lifestyle. Take a closer look to help you understand how to create S.M.A.R.T. Goals that fit your life.

Something that works for me, may not work for someone else. This case is true in almost every situation. Test new ways to do things, until you find the right fit for yourself. Even though it may take a while, it is important to remember the reasons why. Why am I doing this? Why should I do this? Remembering the reasons why can help keep you motivated.

Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, shared information on S.M.A.R.T. Goals on Extension Today. Watch the video below to learn more!

Check out the resources below to learn more about sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions!

Author: Megan Zwick, Family and Consumer Sciences Program Assistant, OSU Extension Washington County

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, M.Ed., OSU Extension Washington County

Resources:

Miller, J. A. (n.d.). How to make (and keep) a new year’s resolution. The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/resolution-ideas

Seven Steps for Making your New Year’s Resolutions Stick. Harvard Health. (2020, November 24). Retrieved December 17, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/seven-steps-for-making-your-new-years-resolutions-stick

January 10, 2022 by Jennifer Little

https://stocksnap.io/author/mattmoloney

Human Trafficking is an issue that affects Ohioans of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, and Wear Blue Day is an effort to raise awareness of the signs and to, ultimately, stop this crime which destroys lives of vulnerable people in our own communities, and across the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice describes Human Trafficking as” a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex”.  The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 further recognized that this issue includes the use of “force, fraud or coercion” as well as the recruitment of those too young to give legal consent (under age 18).  This Act began to draw national attention to what is often referred to as “modern day slavery”.

The Department of Homeland Security describes the many ways this issue affects the people and institutions of United States – “Human trafficking threatens our physical and virtual borders, our immigration and customs systems, our prosperity, our national security, our personal and public safety.” Addressing the issues related to human trafficking is a national priority and includes strategies 1) to support organizations combating Human Trafficking, 2) to limit the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and 3) to end Child Sexual Exploitation.

Human Trafficking is not only a national concern, but a significant problem right here in Ohio.  According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Update in January 2020, Ohio ranks 4th in the nation for prevalence of human trafficking, even though our state population is only ½ to 1/3 of other highly ranked states.  In 2019 the Ohio Organized Crime Investigation Commission was part of an effort that rescued 110 trafficked victims and referred another 217 people to victim services.  One major Ohio law enforcement operation in 2020, involved 76 open missing/exploited children cases. 

January 11th is National Wear Blue Day and is part of the Blue Campaign sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking and to educate individuals, law enforcement and organizations about how to recognize indications of human trafficking, and what to do if they suspect someone is being trafficked.

What are signs that someone may be the victim of human trafficking?

  • A person who appears fearful, timid or acts overly submissive or defers to an older or controlling companion for basic questions
  • Someone who has a sudden or significant change in behavior or withdrawal from school or other outside activities
  • A person who seems to lack possessions or appears to have been denied food, sleep, or medical care
  • A person who appears to have bruises at various stages of healing, signs that he/she may have experienced physical abuse over time
  • Someone who seems to have an overly restrictive living situation, such as limited ability to move about or to leave on their own

What can you do to assist someone you suspect may be a victim of human trafficking or to help combat this issue in your community?

  1. Report suspected human trafficking to the federal authorities at 1-866-347-2423.
  2. Encourage or assist the victim to text HELP or INFO to 233733 (BeFree). 
  3. Bring awareness to this crime by participating in #WearBlueDay on January 11th. Learn more about @DHSBlueCampaign and #WearBlueDay here:  https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday.                                                                                                           
  4. In Ohio, participate in the Attorney General’s initiative to end human trafficking by visiting the website:  https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/humantrafficking.

Written by: Jennifer Little, MS, RD, LD, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, MEd, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Justice website:  https://www.justice.gov/humantrafficking
  2. Homeland Security Human Trafficking webpage: https://www.dhs.gov/topic/human-trafficking
  3. Ohio Attorney General website: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/Newsletters/Criminal-Justice-Update/January-2020/New-human-trafficking-efforts-aim-to-make-a-differ
  4. Homeland Security Blue Campaign webpage: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday

Are You Stuck in a Cooking Rut?

I usually like to cook. In fact, I would cook more often if someone else always did the cleanup. At times I can feel like I get stuck in a rut with lack of inspiration leading to the redundancy of the same few recipes. This boredom leads to ordering more takeout and delivery, which often costs more time and money and increases the consumption of less healthy food. If you are finding yourself “stuck in a rut” and lacking inspiration here are a few ideas to shake up your everyday food routine.

A bowl of cereal with berries and nuts

Breakfast
Let’s start with breakfast, do you always eat the same thing? I like having cereal but after a few days it can become monotonous, and I find myself skipping this important meal or grabbing something unhealthy on the way to work. Try adding hot or cold cereal to the routine; include berries or other fruit in your meal or even on your cereal. Did you know adding more protein to breakfast will help you feel fuller longer? Easy sources of protein include eggs, yogurt, or milk. If you are looking for vegetarian or vegan friendly options, you can add a dairy alternative milk, seeds or nuts to your cereal or breakfast smoothie, or beans to a breakfast burrito.

Lunch
Lunch time meal shake ups may depend on your situation and if you have access to kitchen equipment, including a microwave. Salads can be a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet and shake up your meal ideas. Check out this recipe for Mason jar burrito bowl salads, another idea is to plan for leftovers. For example, you can, cook a little more of a main dish at dinner to ensure leftovers for lunch. For changes to your sandwiches try a new ingredient, make it a wrap, or turn your sandwich into a salad. One of my favorite lunchtime meals is to utilize healthy snack items as my lunch, such as hummus with veggies and pita chips, a yogurt parfait with granola and fruit, or crackers with cheese and nuts.

A tablet with recipe

Dinner
One the best ways to change up your dinner routine is to find new recipes. If you search recipes online, you can quickly become overwhelmed with all the possibilities. To reduce the fatigue of shifting through millions of recipes look for certain main ingredients or protein or, try to stick to staple ingredients that you already have in your pantry. The Ohio State University SNAP-Ed team has a great recipe website with many easy, low-cost recipes, check them out at CelebrateYourPlate.org

Still need inspiration? You can also try these ideas:

  • Have a recipe swap with friends.
  • Refresh a traditional family recipe.
  • Try cooking once and eating twice.
  • Pick one or two new recipes to try per week and have your family vote on their favorites.
  • Involve the rest of the family by having them choose a new recipe (this is a great way to involve your kids in learning to cook).
  • Explore a cuisine from another culture.

Whatever you decide to do, remember making small changes can benefit both your health and your wallet.

Written By: Laura Halladay, NDTR, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Greene County

Reviewed By: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Warren County

Sources:

Harvard Health. (2018, December 1). Extra protein at breakfast helps control hunger. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/extra-protein-at-breakfast-helps-control-hunger

Healthy meals: Low cost recipes. Celebrateyourplate. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://celebrateyourplate.org/

Henneman, A. (2019, October 14). How to cook once and eat twice. UNL Food. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://food.unl.edu/how-cook-once-and-eat-twice

Oliver, V. (2020, December 8). Make a week’s worth of lunches with Burrito Bowl Mason jar salads. Make a week’s worth of lunches with Burrito Bowl Mason Jar Salads | UK Human Resources. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.uky.edu/hr/thrive/12-08-2020/make-week%E2%80%99s-worth-lunches-with-burrito-bowl-mason-jar-salads

Photo Credit:
Sarah Cervera via Unsplash – Breakfast bowl with berries, nuts, and grains.
Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash – Recipe displayed on tablet.

Picture of Trash

I can remember growing up in Michigan in the 70s and 80s, we would get our first snowfall around Thanksgiving, and we wouldn’t see grass until late March. Every year here in southern Ohio, it seems the idea of a white Christmas is a thing of the past. The past decade has seen the warmest average temperatures on record. Climate experts paint an ominous picture for our planets’ future and our overall quality of life. Issues such as plastic pollution and food waste contribute to climate warming and also immediate wellbeing.

If you are looking to set a New Years resolution, consider some ideas that are eco-friendly. Here are a few ideas:

  • Buy and use reusable straws. Keep them on hand and refuse single use straws at restaurants.
  • Stop using single use plastic bags. Keep reusable bags in your cars so you don’t forget them when running into the grocery store.
  • Freeze left overs and use ingredients later in smoothies, soups, etc.
  • Start a compost pile for food waste. Keep an old coffee bin in the kitchen to discard food scraps.
  • Start using bar soap or refill soap containers to avoid purchasing plastic bottles.
  • Reuse glass jars, Tupperware, and beeswax wrap to store food and leftovers instead of single use plastic sandwich bags.
  • Refill a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
  • Participate in a neighborhood clean up or roadside garbage pick up.

These are just a few ideas. Small changes can really add up over a lifetime. The actions of millions of people can can collectively reduce the amount of plastic and food going into landfills and contributing to climate change.

Author: Dan Remley, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. Associate Professor, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, M.P.H., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension

Sources:

Beyond Plastics. (2021). THE NEW COAL: PLASTICS AND CLIMATE CHANGE. REPORT: The New Coal: Plastics & Climate Change — Beyond Plastics – Working To End Single-Use Plastic Pollution

Ohio State University Extension. Sustainable Action through Video Engagement (S.A.V.E.). Sustainability in the Kitchen. Left-overs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlDXy80yraY

Ohio State University Extension. Sustainable Action through Video Engagement (S.A.V.E.). Sustainability in the Kitchen: Single Use Plastics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CangcvETxk

Ohio State University Extension. Sustainable Action through Video Engagement (S.A.V.E.).Composting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lOMPTRj7eE

This time of year, people are reflecting on the previous year and making resolutions. Most of the time, those new resolutions only last a few days or weeks, and they are forgotten by February. The start of a new year is the perfect time for a fresh start and an opportunity to change bad habits, that can help you grow emotionally, socially, physically, or psychologically. 

Take your time planning and choosing your resolution. Creating a detailed plan will assist you in sticking to your goal. Write down the strategies you will implement, the steps you will take, and why you want to do it. This will help keep you on track. 

Remember to be realistic when making your resolution and make one change at a time.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to change everything at once. Take control of one habit and then move to another. For example:  If your resolution is to change an eating habit, take one small simple step at a time. Step one: Drink more water. Step two: Start the day by eating a healthy breakfast. Step three: Add more activity each week. Focusing on one small change instead of big changes will help you accomplish your goal. 

Reward yourself. Set little rewards for meeting your goals or steps along the way to help you stay motivated. Make the reward something that will encourage you to stay on track and motivated to keep moving toward your goal.

Sometimes, changes involve setbacks. Don’t give up on your goal. If you mess up and stray from your plan, think about the reasons you want to change. Get back on track and make it happen. 

Sources:

Clear, J. (2021) How To Start New Habits that Actually Stick.  https://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change

Kliff, S. (2014).  The Science of Actually Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution.  https://www.vox.com/2014/12/29/7434433/new-years-resolutions-psychology

The Ohio State Univeristy. (2021, June 28). Creating Healthy Habits that Last. Retrieved on December 15, 2021, https://recsports.osu.edu/articles/creating-healthy-habits-that-last/

Written by:  Kellie Lemly M.Ed., Family Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D. Family Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Darke County, scammahron.5@osu.edu

Living through a pandemic, working remotely (at times), moving my college students to two different states, losing my dad, going on vacation, and becoming a certified yoga instructor are a few experiences that define the year 2021 for me. What was your 2021 like?

Reflecting on these experiences it became noticeable that my emotions have been on a “high alert”. No matter what has been experienced, the emotion felt has been heightened by the events of the last few years. Happy and peaceful. Excited and scared. Sad and exhausted. Sometimes these emotions are isolated and sometimes experienced in a span of 5 minutes. Like many, realizing and recognizing what is happening emotionally in any moment is something that I have been attempting to pay attention to.

Because I live with generalized anxiety disorder, becoming more aware of my emotional response to situations is an important part of my day. Overthinking situations can lead to misinterpretation of what I am experiencing. This desire to realize how my emotions and feelings affect my response in situations has brought me to learning more about my own emotional identity. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

According to emotional psychology theory, emotions are basic or complex. Basic emotions are identified through facial expressions. Complex emotions are a combination of two or more emotions. The six basic emotions are sadness, happiness, fear, surprise, disgust, anger. Some complex emotions are jealousy, hate, hate, regret, joy, apprehension, anticipation. 

Emotional Identity is defined as “an individual’s ability to be aware of affective responses that occur during varied daily interactions”. Being able to identify and name emotions can help to process what is occurring. It also keeps each of us from pushing what we are feeling to the background. It is okay to feel.  It is okay to express that. By learning to identify and to talk about emotions, healthier relationships can be developed.

My hope for you as the weeks unfold and you experience the joys and struggles is that you accept your emotions as they occur and take time to process, share, and place them. Take time in each part of your day to check in with yourself and what your emotions are telling you. It may be difficult at first, but over time the rewards will be great.

Written By:  Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County

Reviewed By:  Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

Sources:

Angel SL. The emotion identification group. Am J Occup Ther. 1981 Apr;35(4):256-62. doi: 10.5014/ajot.35.4.256. PMID: 7223832.

Person. (2020, September 30). Emotion wheel: How to use it for emotional literacy. Healthline. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/emotion-wheel

Posted June 27, 2019 by U. W. A. | P. and C. N. (2020, June 22). The science of emotion: Exploring the basics of emotional psychology. UWA Online. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://online.uwa.edu/news/emotional-psychology/.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders.

Reebye P. (2003). Identity and Emotion: Development Through Self-Organization. The Canadian child and adolescent psychiatry review, 12(4), 123.

What are basic emotions? | psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201601/what-are-basic-emotions

With the holidays around the corner, I have been thinking about all the things that have changed over the years. When I was a kid, we went to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve and celebrated with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. When my grandparents moved in to an apartment, the holidays were divided amongst my aunts. As my generation grew and started having children, it became too much to coordinate, so we no longer get together for Christmas with my extended family. We have continued to gather for Thanksgiving, though.

Baking Cookies, Christmas Baking, Child'S Hand, Cut Out
Child making cut out cookies

Even as my own kids have grown, our traditions have changed. We used to go to their great-grandpa’s house and then my aunt’s on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day, we opened presents at our house, then went to my parent’s house to open presents and eat with my brother and his family. Finally, we concluded with Christmas evening at their other grandparents’ house with their aunt and uncle. Now, my parent’s go to Florida for the winter, so we no longer celebrate the holidays with my family. While the slower pace on Christmas Day is nice, I miss seeing my parents and my brother and his family for Christmas.

While I do miss some of the traditions of the past, I try not to focus on how things “used” to be, but instead seek to make new traditions that suit the changes in our family. My kids, young adults now, have school or college, work, friends, etc. to juggle along with the “commitments” of the holidays. I could not be happier that they have grown in to happy, healthy, productive, well-adjusted adults, as I had always hoped; however, I would be lying if I said I don’t sometimes miss the time when their world revolved around our family. I try to be supportive and understanding, which is easier to do, so long as I remember that this is the cycle of life.

Friends, Celebration, Dinner, Table, Meal, Food, White
Friends celebrating with a meal

As I look to the future, I am mostly excited for what is to come. I will miss my daughter when she goes off to college, just as I miss(ed) her brothers when they left. I am looking forward to seeing my young adult children spread their wings and make their way in the world. I will be cheering them on all the way and I will be here to support them as they make new traditions in their own lives. Hopefully, I will be included in many of those traditions. As they go out in to the world, I am sure my husband and I will make some new traditions for ourselves as well. Traditions serve many purposes, including:

  1. An anxiety buffer– From reciting blessings to raising a glass to make a toast, holiday traditions are replete with rituals which can act as a buffer against anxiety by making our world a more predictable place.
  2. Happy meals– The long hours spent in the kitchen and the dining room during the preparation and consumption of holiday meals serve some of the same social functions as the hearths of our early ancestors. Sharing a ceremonial meal symbolizes community, brings the entire family together around the table, and smooths the way for conversation and connection.
  3. Sharing is caring– Anthropologists have noted that among many societies ritualized gift-giving plays a crucial role in maintaining social ties by creating networks of reciprocal relationships.
  4. The stuff family is made of– The most important function of holiday rituals is their role in maintaining and strengthening family ties.

My kids are mostly grown now, and hopefully the traditions and rituals we have had over the years and ones yet to come, will be looked upon fondly by them, just as I look back with fond remembrance of the traditions of my childhood and those of raising my own children.

Join us Friday, December 17th at 12:00 pm for a 30-minute webinar on Why Traditions are Important Today. The webinar is free, but registration is required at go.osu.edu/playweb.

Written by: Misty Harmon, OSU Extension Educator, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Thinking Outside the Box

a gift-wrapped box

With the holiday season comes gift-giving to our young people. Often, the gift box contains new technology for our teens and even younger children. The device could be a first cell phone, tablet, or even a laptop. When our young people exhaust playing with toys, we default to technology as the next level of gifts. My children are young adults now, but I can remember back to the iPod, laptops, Nintendo DS, Wii, and smartphones opened from the boxes at Christmas. For my son, we waited until 13 for his first phone, but for my daughter, we surprised her a year early at 12. As adults, we were in control, and we decided when they would get access. However, looking back, I would have delayed gifting some technology until later. 

It does not have control when it is in the box, but once you open Pandora’s technology box, devices can control a person. It is hard enough as adults to have the willpower to set down our devices. Young people struggle even more without fully developed will-power or self-regulation. Healthy boundaries are good to provide and can benefit children’s mental health. Setting technology boundaries before a device is out of the box or turned on for the first time is the best practice.

Some best practices include setting up data limits. If the data runs out, they can still use the device as a phone or in Wi-Fi, but they have just exhausted their “connected time”. Most phones now come with a screen time feature that limits time on certain apps, at certain times of the day, or which apps can be downloaded. Use these features to help enforce the guidelines, but do not depend on them alone. The Internet is a dangerous playground for youth to access unsupervised. Set restrictions on which types of websites they can visit and ensure all Internet use is done in public spaces.

Phones also have helpful features, like knowing your children’s location or contacting them after school. Some educational apps will help youth study and learn about different topics. Show your youth how they can be content creators rather than just consumers. Many apps teach youth coding to create the app versus just consuming the app. Ohio 4-H just launched a program called Clovers CODE, which helps youth in 4-H learn to create apps and the code behind the app.

Modeling guidelines is also important. If your family rule is no phones in bedrooms, then have a family charging station in a central place in the home. Introduce a “no phones at dinner time” rule and abide by that. Show your children that immediate responses to their friends are not urgent and can wait by delaying your own replies. And instead of spending time on devices, enjoy time together this holiday playing family games.

As you wrap up all your boxes this holiday season, do not forget to think outside the box and set your family boundaries before the technology is gifted to your children.

Written by Mark D. Light, Ph.D., Leader, Ohio 4-H STEM & Digital Engagement Innovations

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, MPH, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

References:

Abi-Jaoude, E., Naylor, K. T., & Pignatiello, A. (2020). Smartphones, social media use and youth mental health. Canadian Medical Associaton Journal192(6), E136-E141. https://www.cmaj.ca/content/192/6/E136

Dempsey, S., Lyons, S., & McCoy, S. (2019). Later is better: Mobile phone ownership and child academic development. Economic and Social Research Institute. http://aei.pitt.edu/101971/1/RB201903_01.pdf

Wiles, B. B., Schachtner, L., & Pentz, J. L. (2016). The New Screen Time: Computers, Tablets, and Smartphones Enter the Equation. Journal of Extension54(2), 10. https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/joe/vol54/iss2/10/