Most of us do our best to squeeze lots of family, friends, and co-workers into a short five to six week span during holiday season. Our calendars fill up quickly.
There are expectations put on us and ones we bring upon ourselves. The motivation behind them is good but perhaps unrealistic.
- We’re family. We are supposed to see each other.
- We’re hosting the big dinner and there is so much work to do.
- If we don’t show up with nice gifts, we’ll appear cheap or selfish. People will talk about us.
- If we don’t show up at all, we’ll look like we don’t care.
- There are parents and grandparents on both sides of the family. They are all important. How will we choose?
- Community events pull us in, too. Church programs, Santa visits, Tree Lighting ceremonies . . . the list goes on.
Let’s ask some important questions
Is it wise to overdo for the sake of participating in everything? Or, is it better to choose a few events/gatherings and be fully present and relaxed, rather than exhausted long before New Year’s Day arrives? When I feel like life has spun out of control, and the holiday crazies are winning the race, I tend to lose a measure of joy and long for January 2nd to hurry up and show up.
Why not set some realistic boundaries this year?
Families who negotiate celebrations in more than one home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, in particular stepfamilies, know how fast things can get complicated. When life gets stressful, it’s easy for moods to turn sour and anger to flare. That’s the last thing any of us want. We want happy holidays.
Manage the holiday crazies in positive and realistic ways
- Plan in advance: Get the calendar out and, if possible, start scheduling no later than the first week of November.
- Consider each family member. What activities matter most to them? Try to include at least one thing defined as a high priority for each person.
- Lower the expectations and communicate well with extended family.
- Be honest and gracious when not accepting an invitation. Express a desire to be “at” the event, but kindly decline those activities that simply aren’t realistic.
- Keep spending in check during the holidays. It’s okay to be real about your finances and not let debt grow out of control.
- Focus on creating fun times together so the holiday season is enjoyed. Everyone might need to give-and-take to create beautiful memories. That’s okay.