Have A Happy Holiday – Not An Exasperating One

By Marianne Kuzujanakis, MD, MPH

When the air turns crisp and the leaves glow brightly, our thoughts are captured by all the many fall and winter holidays and celebrations. The holidays traditionally bring with them merriment, joy and peace. Or so the greeting cards say.

Harvest time offers horse-drawn hayrides and corn mazes. Halloween has trick-or-treating, bobbing apples, and costumes. Thanksgiving gives us family get-togethers with lots of food, hugs and conversation. In December, the holidays come with flickering lights, candles, crowded stores, booming music, the smells of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, and brand-new dress-up clothes. In malls, white-bearded Santa’s also await.

Unfortunately, for some families with gifted children, the holiday celebrations may instead bring an uneasy joy, filled with challenging experiences.

What conditions place a gifted child at greatest risk?

What’s a parent to do to help not just survive – but embrace – the holidays?

Above all, remember what the holidays are all about. Joy. Family. Friends. Peace. Love.

Ensure that you and your child and entire family experience this magical time without fear of overstimulation or risk for food allergy complications. Don’t aim for perfection and don’t try to handle everything yourself. Ask for help from family and friends. Paying attention to a few reminders and being mindful of the child’s individual needs (as well as your own needs) can assist in moving everything in the right direction and bringing back the merriment that is at the core of the entire fall and winter seasons!

Happy Holidays to all!

Sincere wishes for a safe and joyous season!

Marianne Kuzujanakis MD, MPH
Chair, Professional Advisory Committee

North Shore, Massachusetts

Marianne Kuzujanakis is a pediatrician with long-standing interests in parent and clinician education. She is a co-founder of the SENG Misdiagnosis Initiative aiming to increase public and healthcare awareness for giftedness, 2e, and medical misdiagnosis. She received her medical training in Memphis, TN (Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the University of Tennessee Medical Center), more recently receiving an AHRQ Pediatric Health Services Research Program fellowship and master of public health degree in Boston, MA (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston Children’s Hospital). In between, Dr. Kuzujanakis served as a hospitalist, and then as the director of the outpatient department of a children’s teaching hospital. The majority of her medical career has been in primary care practice in Massachusetts, having regularly dedicated a portion of her time as a clinical instructor, both through Harvard Medical School and also as the course director of a local clinician-training program for practicing pediatricians. Presently, Dr. Kuzujanakis is focuses on being the homeschool educator for her gifted teen and being a resource in homeschooling and gifted communities.