Christmas is that time of the year where for the most part families gather to celebrate, kick back, relax, eat, drink and be merry! It’s not always the picture-prefect family scene and if you are to survive the holiday season – just start with this thought:
Don’t Expect the Waltons!

For many it’s a time of sadness and loneliness; departed loved ones, absent family members and separation dividing family members. Coping with raw and painful emotions combined with having the picture perfect image of how it could/should/would have been makes it even harder. Things may never be the same and unfortunately we can’t turn back time. It may be a test of our inner strength to adapt to new circumstances and find new ways to cope with and celebrate Christmas.

For those who are spending time with family this Christmas; it might not be tins of roses chocolates and celebrations all around. That picture perfect image of happy families gathered around the Christmas table? Ok so you might have everyone smiling for the photographs but is it realistic to expect that you get along with those now adult siblings of yours so there is peace and joy this holiday season?

No matter where you are or who you are spending time with this Holiday Season – here’s 3 tips to get you through it:

Expectations

Thinking about the holiday season and all the expectations it holds, what would be your IDEAL? Think about it and visualize what you see happening. Enjoy the scene that plays out in your mind. Perhaps it’s sitting near an open fire, surrounded by loved ones, kids playing happily with their toys and maybe even a flurry of snow outside.

Now think about what is REALISTIC! Could we add a bit of tension around the preparations for the main meal? Grumpy moods from the kids when the chocolate high crashes or a squabble over TV versus more PlayStation? Arguments over who’s going to do the clean-up in the kitchen or how long it should wait? Who’s going to be the designated driver or getter-up in the morning with small children?

Throw in a few comments from in-laws or just your lesser-favourite person to get under your skin? Unrealistic expectations will only ever lead to disappointment, tension and frustration. Accept that it might be far from ‘perfect’. Accept people for who they are, not what you want them to be. Everyone always does his or her best.

Accept who you have in your life right now and welcome their company with open arms, an open heart and no expectations.

Assumptions

Being clear on what you think is happening with everyone involved eliminates false assumptions. Just because someone did something for you before, it doesn’t mean it will happen again. Having a conversation that ends with the other person saying “I must do…” something for you does not mean that they have done it. Just because you’ve assigned the task of buying the booze to the man in your life doesn’t mean that he will know that he needs to re-stock your supply of Baileys, or remember to put ice in the fridge!.

He may have assumed that because you took a liking to Jack Daniel’s and Coke one night last year, that you were going to make that a new tradition this year. Don’t just assume that everyone knows your plans unless you talk to them. You can eliminate your need to say “s/he forgot” and that feeling of disappointment by not assuming. Beyond the logistics and until Mindreader 1.0 is freely available for all humans to install, then we need to ask more questions and maybe more importantly listen to the answers, rather than making assumptions.

Now there’s a fine line between having the conversation and turning into a Chrismas-zilla (the festive season version of Bridezilla and more gender neutral!). Have the conversations to avoid the drama, the misunderstandings and missing out on what you really wanted or thought would happen.

Don’t just think – talk, ask questions, listen to the answers and negotiate if need be.

Be True to yourself

Does Christmas really need to be stressful? The answer is simply NO. Talking the stress out of Christmas is really about saying yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. Saying no to somebody may result in them being disappointed. That is theirs to deal with. Be true to yourself and honour your needs. If you don’t stretch yourself too far, then you won’t feel stressed. Feel that you have a choice and make the choice to suit yourself first. It’s not about being selfish, it’s about starting with yourself.

IF you do say yes, then commit to your agreement 100%. Give it 100% effort and enjoy it, whatever you’ve signed up for! Saying yes to yourself could also mean asking for your wishes or support where you need it. You might not get what you want, but isn’t it better to have asked than not know? Or better than regretting the missed opportunity to do something that you would like to do this holiday season?

What’s going on your naughty = say no or nice = say yes list this year ?

So to avoid the weight of Christmas – just think ‘EAT’ – as in Expectations, Assumptions and be True to yourself!

Most of all, let it be a good one and see the Walton’s in whoever you get to spend it with!

Goodnight John-Boy ……. and Happy Christmas to all!