If you’re a parent there have likely been many times when you’ve had to help your child out of a fearful situation. Whether it was the boogie man under the bed, or the imminent math test, they needed words of wisdom to calm their fears and put things in to perspective. Holidays are the grown up version of a math test or boogie man. The holidays create anxiety and in some cases outright fear due to existing family issues or simply the pressure to make the holidays perfect. Perhaps this is the year that you can let it go and actually enjoy the pieces of the holiday that make it special. You ready?
The holidays are tough. I don’t care how great your family dynamics, the holidays are stressful. If you are lucky enough to come from a functional family (basically you’re in the 1% club), yay on you. However, if you’re like most Americans the dysfunction of the family comes out in full bloom beginning with Thanksgiving. It’s tough. Your forced to combine figuring out how to deal with family on top of getting the right gifts and creating the ‘best” holiday. It’s a heavy burden. But there’s no better time than now to consider unloading the burden and actually enjoying the season.
If you’re ready to fully engage in the holidays, here are some tried and true suggestions. I know they work because I have been the guinea pig. So take a gander and see if any of these might be what you need to make your season bright.
- Let go of perfection. Whether you’re a Type A personality or feel a sense of pressure to be everything, let it go. It’s not worth it. Instead of trying to do all and be all, come up with 3 aspects of the holidays that matter to you and focus on those. For example, if you want to get your family to church (sometimes it’s like herding cats) let your family know it matters to you, a lot. Perhaps limiting gifts and donating to a charity is important to you, make it known up front. If you’re hosting, it’s your rules. But be up front with people and let them know what matters to you. The rest you can let go.
- Family dynamics. This is a big one. Unfortunately, not every family operates like the Cleavers. (I’m sure there was some dysfunction there. Eddie Haskel and June?) I digress. If there is any unease with a family member or guest at the festivities, go with an open mind and heart. Regardless of what happened, it’s the holidays, let it go. Giving someone power over your joy or your experience will only ruin your time. Empower yourself by letting the past go and be cordial. You don’t have to be besties, but it will make the day a lot smoother if you extend a hand and move on.
- Take a time out. I used to put my kids in time out to think about their actions and calm them down. Adults need to do the same. At least once a week, do something special for yourself during the holidays. A massage, meditation class, yoga, get lost in a good book, whatever. My favorite thing to do is to curl up in front of my tree with a cup of tea, soft music in the background and thumb through my favorite cooking magazine. It’s totally my time and when I’m done, I’m invigorated and refreshed.
- Be a role model. I think we can all agree that we don’t want our kids to feel the pressure of the holidays like we do. Therefore, make a point to share with them that the holidays aren’t meant to be perfect. They are meant to connect with family and friends including all of their glorious imperfections. There is nothing more important than to showing your kids how to enjoy the season versus being a slave to it.
- Remember the reason for the season. However you celebrate the holidays, Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanza, remember that at the root of all the commercialism, gift buying, meals and decorations is the reason for all the hoopla. The core of all of these celebrations is love. If nothing else, give the gift of love. It’s easy, affordable and easy to return.
May you have a holiday filled with peace, good friends, family and love, void of stress, anxiety and fear. Cheers!
Photo: “Finger Family” by nokhoog buchachon and freedigitalphotos.com