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Written by: Jessica Bickford

As I write this, I sit near my woodstove while snow floats softly down outside my windows.  Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and I am enjoying some quiet before the busyness begins. This year there is much to be thankful for – but perhaps most importantly – I am thankful for special time with loved ones.  Thanksgiving is a day that many of us spend with friends or family being thankful for the many blessings in our lives.  By taking a few moments now to think about how we can keep our loved ones safe we can make this Thanksgiving a great experience.

Lock up your medicines – a simple toolbox or tacklebox with a lock works well for this purpose.  More on prescription drug safety can be found at:https://www.healthylamoillevalley.org/prescription-drugs/ .

Be alert – if you have kids, take a moment to look at the world from their perspective when visiting friends and family.  This is especially important when you have infants and toddlers – taking time to sit on the floor with them may help you discover the stray pill that got dropped and is hiding under the tv stand – looking like candy…  an alcoholic drink may look like a favorite soda or juice.

Talk to your kids/teens – Talking to your children and teens about drug and alcohol safety, clear boundaries, and how to get out of uncomfortable situations will help the visit to go more smoothly.  As parents you are the #1 influence for your kids.

Listen to your kids/teens – We all get excited to see our friends, but if we are too busy to listen to what our kids are saying we may miss their attempts to share their concerns with us.  Our kids/teens need us to be present for them. Tone and body language tell us a lot about their comfort in a situation.

Provide fun drinks for kids and teens too!  Alcohol is a part of many family celebrations that can exclude those under 21 or those who choose not to consume.  When hosting consider providing fun alcohol-free alternatives.  A favorite Thanksgiving drink at our table is a cranberry lime spritzer.  Cranberry juice, seltzer, and a squeeze of lime.  A simple yet festive drink that pairs well with turkey!

Monitor alcohol – If you choose to have alcohol, YOU are responsible to monitor it.  Vermont has tough social hosting laws.  Allowing minors to drink alcohol on your property can result in fines up to $2,000 per youth served.  You can also be held responsible for serving and of-age guest too much alcohol should they leave and get in an accident.

Refrigerate leftovers – Taking time to take care of leftovers right after dinner will ensure that they are safe to eat later – avoiding the risk of food poisoning.

Bring a favorite family game – A game is a simple way to include our kids in the celebration providing opportunity for quality multi-generational interactions that create lots of memories.  There are also some amazing coloring books out there!

However you choose to celebrate, we wish you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday!