Phew, we made it through Thanksgiving! Most American families celebrate Thanksgiving similarly: lots of food and family and friends, naps and more food. With December just around the corner, it's a good time for au pairs and host families to talk about the upcoming holidays, because everyone celebrates differently. That's one of the great things about exchange programs, everything is an opportunity for cultural exchange and December holidays especially so!
Host families and au pairs, talk about December and what everyone's expectations are. First, talk about your different holiday traditions and how you might be able to share those with each other. Most host families have young children and are building new family traditions along the way. Adding traditions from another country to your own is a way of continuing your exchange experience throughout the years. Sometimes, host families travel abroad over the holidays and their au pair might be at home. Invite your au pair's friend over for double the fun and exchange.
Next, talk about scheduling expectations. Some professions slow down in December during the holidays and some get even busier. Host parents and au pairs, talk about the realities of your December schedule and try to strike a balance of work, social and family fun time. As Local Coordinator, it's my annual duty to announce at the November cluster meeting that most au pairs will be working on New Year's Eve, aka "The Hardest Night of the Year to Find a Sitter." For au pairs, it feels like "The Worst Night of the Year to Work." If New Year's Eve is a work night, talk about ways to make the night fun for everyone.
And finally, if your shared holiday traditions include presents, remember that the best presents are the ones that make us feel special and loved.