It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it?
The holidays stir up different emotions for everyone. For those who had wonderful childhood memories of the holidays, have a supporting family and leave each gathering feeling fulfilled, loved and excited for the next meeting, the holidays are incredible! Some people have the complete opposite of those giddy vibes that family provides though. Which person are you? Do you know which category your spouse falls into? Is it the same as yours? Here are a few tips to help you both get through the holidays.
1. Talk about it.
If you are in a relationship, talk to your spouse about what the holidays bring for you- stress, anxiety, bad memories, excitement, happiness, fulfillment? What comes up for you? Certain feelings for one side of the family and others for the other side? What comes up for them for their family? What comes up for them with your family?
If you’re not in a relationship, be aware of the answers to these questions for yourself. Journal on them if needed.
2. Set expectations with everyone.
What time are you meeting? Where? Who’s bringing what dish? Who’s staying where? When are you leaving?
Additionally, how do you expect the time to go? Do you want to take advantage of the time to relax or do you want to fill the time with certain activities?
3. Identify patterns. Address if needed.
Are you always the one who cooks and cleans while others sit, eat and expect to be served on a silver platter? Frustrating for sure, but before you get mad and build that silent resentment- try asking for their help. Ask yourself if where your anger or irritation comes from when the pattern arises. Is it because you’ve never communicated your expectations?
4. Cultural Differences
Cultures are different across the world but they can also be different from family to family. Some families eat certain foods, some have traditional events, some have a particular demeanor. Get to know your people. Just because they don’t do everything your family does or they want certain things included doesn’t make them wrong. It’s part of their culture. If you aren’t aware of them, there’s a really good chance you’re pre-judging without all the facts.
As a personal example, my husband is Middle Eastern. His family is boisterous, indulgent, doting, and always laughing. Everyone helps clean up. My family is more serious. Expectations are higher but communication isn’t. My brothers have conversations mostly made up of movie lines. The idioms are fast and frequent. My youngest brother has a hard time with the fact that my husband takes a nap every day after lunch.
In my husband’s culture, this is common but more than that, having to constantly focus on conversations, be apart of them and think about the meaning behind the conversations going on around him- my husband is completely exhausted after only a few hours. His mind runs on full force just trying to fit into the conversations. Not something my brother has ever thought about or asked about but has definitely judged Moe for. Are you judging people without understanding their perspective or needs?
5. Take a Step Back.
Certain family members drain every ounce of your energy? This is sadly more common than most people care to admit. Ask yourself what bothers you about them? Remember that insecurities are LOUD, confidence is quiet. If they’re loud and obnoxious, maybe they need reassurance that they’re wanted, seen, heard or loved. If they’re overbearing or controlling, maybe they need boundaries. Also remember that unhealthy people respond to boundaries in unhealthy ways. However, if they are responding in an unhealthy way, they’re only solidifying why the boundary needed set in the first place. Keep setting them. Eventually, their response won’t trigger you as much. Take a step back and view the person and the situation from a different perspective- theirs, an outsider’s or as that person. What’s needed?
For those of us who leave family and are not fulfilled but more drained after the holidays, we need a few days to rest. A vacation from the vacation if you will. If your spouse is this person, have compassion and give them the rest they need. If you are this person, take the time you need. Get your nails done, take a drive, get a massage, whatever you need to refill your own cup, do it.
7. Do What You Gotta Do.
In some cases, family is who you choose, not what you were born into. If you need to make the choice to put your mental health above a weekend with people who make you miserable, do what you have to do. You should never feel unsafe, torn down or broken by people who claim to love you for the sake of tradition.
8. Make Your Own Traditions
Turkey too much work and it never gets eaten? Grab a few rotisserie chickens from Costco. Make enchiladas. Have chili and cinnamon rolls instead…and YES! That is an incredibly delicious thing! (IYKYK) Traditions aren’t set in stone. Do what makes things more enjoyable, gives you more time and even better memories! Screw tradition if it takes away from joy, memories or happiness.
9. Do Not Count Calories.
You’re talking about 1-2 days, not months. What you eat over the 1-2 days isn’t going to make or break your diet, create bad habits or turn you into a blob. Enjoy your time. Enjoy your meals. Stop obsessing. Stress, shame and guilt will do way more damage to your body and mind than a couple pieces of pumpkin pie ever will.
10. Take all the pictures.
Get a cheap tripod off of Amazon, set it up and take pictures. Take pictures of your littles on their Pops & Gigi’s laps. Take the candid shots, the pictures that are real and in the moment. Someday you’ll be glad you did.
Safe travels and enjoy your week!