‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY!
Ah, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, Santa! It is the time of the year when we step back, take stock, count our blessings, and thank our loved ones, including family and friends, for being there for us throughout the year, and our lives. It’s Wonderful!
A time to celebrate the founding of this wonderful country, our religious and spiritual values, and our friendships! Symbolically, we give “gifts” to express our joy and happiness and bring joy and happiness into others’ lives.
It is also generally known as the most stressful time of the year, as we run around, gathering all of the necessary holiday accouterments, purchasing gifts, worrying about money and bills, fighting holiday traffic, on the roads and in the malls, and wondering “if we’re all going to get along this year,” and/or worrying about particular individuals and hoping everything turns out all right. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
A major problem over the holidays is that the actual experience usually doesn’t measure up to what we hope, or fantasize. We have known family members since we, or they, were born. Consequently, along with the joyful feelings of the past, we also tend to relate to one another according to the negative feelings of the past, as well. So, there might be family members or family friends that we might dread seeing over the holidays, which will reinforce our negative feelings.
If I learned early on that my sibling lied and cheated whenever we played together, today, that belief, with all of its accompanying thoughts and feelings, might have matured to the point that I think that sibling is a liar and cheater, disingenuous, and one to be avoided, which I have been successful at for most of the year, and now I am compelled to be around that sibling.
If I was emotionally abused or neglected (the opposite of feeling nurtured and loved) by either of my parents, I might not even want to go home for the holidays but I might feel compelled and just hope that they won’t be like “that” again this year.
What about the in-laws that I don’t like and those of whom don’t like me?
There might be any number of very good reasons “not” to go home for the Holidays, yet, we feel compelled.
1. Don’t go home! Don’t use the Holidays to work at repairing relationships that haven’t worked all year. If you want to repair relationships, work on them at less stressful times. If there are people you don’t want to see, don’t see them. If you happen to run into each other, be pleasant, but don’t deliberately congregate with them.
2. Don’t congregate with in-laws with whom you don’t get along. What is the point? You married your partner, not your in-laws. If you feel compelled to visit with in-laws, on occasion, visit with them at less stressful times of the year. Why arrive late and leave early? By not congregating with them, you are achieving your goal of not congregating with them. Enjoy!
3. If you do go home, be pleasant! Don’t be the one that everyone wants to avoid next year. Do not work at repairing relationships or “fixing” family and/or friends. Express your feelings accurately, but in a way that the other person will feel good that you did. Enjoy the occasion. You may be pleasantly surprised.
4. If you don’t go home, do something Fun! Start your own traditions. Take the best of what you and your significant other liked about the holidays and incorporate it into your own unique holiday celebration.
5. Travel! See the world! Visit or travel with “real” friends! You know, people you like and they also like you; incorporate real joy, fun, good times, and celebration into your holidays, with real friends.
6. If you don’t want to celebrate the holidays, don’t! Enjoy the parts of the holidays you like. Let the other parts go.
7. Focus on what you like, what you and your family like, and do it!
8. Set the Goal that when you look back on these holidays next year, you will remember them fondly. Now, go work towards that goal!