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Good morning friends, the holidays, otherwise known as the most stressful 5 weeks of the year, are almost upon us. I love the holidays, and I love to spend them with my family. There are other people who do not have a relationship with their family, or they do not have a family or they simply find the holidays very difficult.
I am from a family of four kids and my mother is from a family of 10 kids, add in spouses, kids, grandkids, and that is a lot of people, personalities, beliefs, views, experiences, life changes and more. At the best of times it is a lot to take in and then you throw in the stress and expectations of the holidays and sometimes it feels like a powder keg waiting to blow.
My husbands family by contrast is very small, he has one sister, no aunts and uncles as his mom is an old child and his father( and his siblings) are all gone. I would say the average gathering if all of the kids and grandkids are there is about 15 people. There is still stress and drama as there is with any family.
I know that social media makes the holidays seem like a Hallmark movie but real life and real holidays are sometimes anything but. Without fail every year one member of my family has a meltdown, we always hope and pray that it isn’t going to happen but it always does. Frankly, I feel sorry for this person because they have so many expectations about “the perfect holiday” and they always feel let down, which inevitably results in a breakdown that always make my husband and I question why we went to begin with.
There are also the probing questions about your life choices, your job, your weight and over the last few years politics. This can put a real damper on the festivities if you don’t plan ahead on how to not only survive the holidays but to enjoy them as well.
Here are 5 ways to survive the holidays
Be realistic about the holidays and your expectations. Many of us have “the perfect” holiday in our minds; a beautiful white Christmas with soft falling snow, a fire in the fireplace, the family sitting around in their matching pjs sipping hot chocolate and egg nog opening presents in front of a beautiful tree. The reality is a bit different, the weather is unseasonably warm and everyone is wearing shorts, the dogs knocked over the tree and broke a few of your favorite ornaments, the kids are crying because they do not want to wear pj’s much less matching ones and someone drank all the milk at breakfast and didn’t get any more so there is no hot chocolate. Let it go, life isn’t perfect and neither are the holidays, no-one has the perfect family or holiday even though social media would like us to believe they did.
Ask for Help
I am the kind of person that likes to “do all” and sometimes I try to do way to many things to make the holiday “perfect” for my family and friends. I actually get mad at myself and them because I’ve taken on too much. Delegate tasks, divide up what needs to get done and allow yourself to enjoy the holidays instead if watching them go by in a blur. It’s ok to ask someone else to wrap gifts, to bake a few dozen cookies, or to plan the activities.
Let Go of Traditions
If you always have a real tree but the kids are grown and it is too hard for you to get out and get one on your own or you simply want to have the ease of a faux tree or if you don’t want to have a tree at all then don’t. If your family has turkey for the holidays but no one likes it, don’t make it simply because it is tradition. If you normally go to midnight mass but it makes everyone cranky the next morning skip it and go the the early mass at five. If it is not making you happy, stop! Do not continue to do something just because you have always done it, life is too short for that.
Everything in Moderation
If you are staying with family for a week you do not need to spend 24 hours a day with them, get out and see an old friend, take a walk, see a movie, or just have some alone time. Holiday food is rich and delicious but don’t overdue it, too much of a good thing is too much and can make you feel ill. By all means enjoy all of your favorite holiday foods and drinks but maybe not all on the same day or a the same time.
Sometimes we have to listen to our bodies and our feelings and to skip a holiday or family get together. Growing up, getting married, having kids, growing old and all of the “seasons” in between can mean that the circumstances of our lives have changed and that not everyone can do every holiday together. I have friends that once they had children never traveled away from home at Christmas. They wanted their kids to wake up in their own beds and to run down the stairs on Christmas morning and to be able to play all day with the gifts Santa brought; family and friends were welcome to come to their house but they were not coming to yours. If you feel like taking a break from traveling or family holidays, stay home and take the year off, it’s ok.
These are just a few things that you can do to make the holidays less stressful on yourself and your family. Remember that life isn’t perfect and your holidays doesn’t have to be either to be enjoyable. Don’t be so hard on yourself or your family, practice gratitude and find the joy in the day.
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Have a great day my friends, you have some suggestions to make the holidays less stressful please share.