In this five-part podcast, family life counselor Diane Moore shares helpful tips for families to survive the holidays.


Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is just a few weeks away. How do you feel about all the work that goes into preparing the food for that special Christmas dinner? Diane Moore has some insights about food and Christmas on today’s Parent Talk tips.

Diane Moore: Let’s talk about food, food and Christmas.

You know what I find interesting is in the Old Testament. When God wanted His people to celebrate a great historical event He always surrounded it with a feast.

Make dinner a powerful meal by telling the Christmas story while you're eating and asking poignant questions.

Why did He do that?

‘Cause He made us, and He knows how our brains work.

And the most powerful memory maker is food. It’s olfactory – smell and taste. And anything we take with smell and taste it goes directly to the center of the brain, the absolute core of the brain and the limbic system, that’s where the olfactory or smell and taste is processed. And it by-passes all other brain function.

So, whatever is happening in the room when you eat becomes very powerful. Have you noticed that?

Have you noticed that when there is conflict and you eat, it’s horrible! Food sticks in your throat.

Have you noticed that when things are really good, when do you really look around and appreciate your family? Usually, it’s at the dinner table and you are looking at the rosy cheeks of your little kids, and you are going, “Man does it doesn’t get better than this?” Cause you are probably eating. Why? Because you’re taking what is in the room and you are taking it straight to the brain. So, let’s use it. There’s a reason we have a feast at Christmas.

Here’s what people usually do, they tell the Christmas story right before they open the presents. There’s not a big memory maker there.

I would say, tell the Christmas story around the feast, while you are eating. Whatever you want to take straight to the brain of your child, do it around the feast.

And at the dinner table, it’s not about saying, “This is great cranberry sauce. Oh, the turkey turned out really good.”

You’re probably going to say those things, but the things I want you to be – that I encourage you to be intentional about – is the connecting of hearts, and the connecting of hearts to the story.

Here’s a great question that you can ask at your Christmas table this year. Ask your kids this question: “If you arrived in Bethelem today, a long time ago – 2000 years ago – just in time for Mary and Joseph to be sitting down for their Christmas story, who would you sit by? Would you sit by Mary, or Joseph, or the manger that’s been pulled up alongside Mary, or the shepherds, or the kings? Who would you want to sit by? And what would you want to talk about?”

Make it real.

And, putting the spotlight on your kids, as you are sitting at the table, it helps them sit there and know they are part of an incredible celebration.

Asking the question, you’re in charge. And they are not in charge of disrupting what’s going on. You have kind of taken control, but given them the spotlight.

So, don’t waste this powerful drug that I call food. Don’t waste it. Make sure that environment is good.


Diane Moore is a certified family life counselor and parent mentor with a private practice in Vancouver. Her radio talk show is Parent Talk heard in Portland, Vancouver and Boise.

Audio captured and edited by Ed Stortro
Audio transcription by Ed Stortro