Many of us are anxiously awaiting the holidays and looking forward to festivities with family and friends. I love the holidays and remember when I was younger wanting to decorate everything even to the point of going over to my grandparents house and decorating for them. Buying LOTS of lights and putting them on the tree, windows, above the curtains, you name it I did it!! My grandma loved lights and that was a huge part of Christmas going around and looking at lights on houses. Yet for some it is a dreaded time of year or at the very least met with caution.
Many of us live in families where the holidays bring tension, stress, and anger. Some of us live miles away from family and feel sadness during this time. While still others don’t like the crowds, and congestion it brings. It is important for everyone to be kind and understanding of the different emotions the Holidays stir up in people. One of the issues is the expectation we all have of what the holiday should be like.
We visualize what OUR perfect holiday looks like and how we want to celebrate. Then if it doesn’t happen just the way we feel it should, we feel hurt, frustrated, sad, mad, disappointed or any other range of emotions. A few things to help alleviate this is to:
- Discuss with those around you what your vision is of the holiday. The way you would like to celebrate and what you would like to do for the Holiday.
- Ask those you will be celebrating with what their vision looks like. How would they like to celebrate? If it’s the same as yours great! From my experience though no two peoples’ vision looks exactly the same.
- If there are differences then discuss what your MOST important events are (for example: some people absolutely want to exchange presents Christmas Eve while others prefer Christmas morning) and the reason behind your preference. Then come up with a plan that everyone can get excited about or at least agree on without resentment. I find most of the time if it’s really important to one person and they understand the reasoning it’s easier to compromise. You can even ask how important is it to you on a scale of 1-5? If you are at a 4 and the other person is at a 5 then that would be a good point to let them decide. But if you are at a 5 and they’re at a 3 then that would be a good point for you to decide. It you both feel at a 5 then that’s where the compromise comes in…(example: the gift exchange. If one person insists the packages must be opened Christmas eve and the other Christmas morning and both feel very strongly about their point of view; let the one that wants to do it Christmas Eve open theirs Christmas Eve and the one that insists on Christmas morning open theirs Christmas morning. If it’s a difference of where to spend the Holiday…my family vs. your family and you live close perhaps you could do Christmas Eve with one and Christmas Day with the other family. If you don’t live close then perhaps you visit families on alternating years.)
- Make a plan as far in advance as possible. Write it down and look it over. Perhaps you need to sleep on it and have more discussion but make sure it’s a plan all parties involved can live with.
- After you’d agreed on the plan then discuss it with the other stakeholders involved such as friends and/or family members so they know what the plan is and there won’t be any surprises on the Holiday. Everyone with know what to expect.
- Plan fun! Games, especially old family games, are a great way to have fun and connect across generations. Also, family pictures are a great way to share family history with children as well as those you don’t see as often. It’s great to have everyone bring some family pictures or an album or two to share. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are playing moon (with dominoes) and listening to all the stories my grandpa, grandma and their siblings would tell at family gatherings.
The most important thing to remember is WHY we are celebrating the holiday in the first place; whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Year’s Day. Our goal is to share the celebration with those we love and care about. If it causes friction and turmoil then it is defeating the purpose. Underneath every human being is a deep desire to love and be loved. What if this was the year that everyone was able to love and be loved and experience the peace and joy of the season? Let’s do it and lets have it begin with us!