When people wish us “HAPPY Holidays” or “MERRY Christmas,” they mean it. But, too often, we let stress and self-imposed expectations create a holiday season that’s anything but happy or merry.
Along life’s journey, I’ve learned a few things that help keep the joy in the season and take care of emotional wellness. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the holidays and make you smile.
1) If a salesperson ever tells you a toy is “easy to assemble,” that person is a liar straight from the pit of hell. If you hear those words- EVER- drop to your knees and pray for that person. Then, give yourself at least a 3-day lead time to assemble the gift. DO NOT… I REPEAT, DO NOT… attempt to assemble a child’s full repertoire of gifts on Christmas Eve. It takes power tools just to liberate a Barbie from its packaging these days. Give yourself time.
2) Stick to your budget. I know it’s tempting to overspend and spoil your people. But, hiding from bill collectors is not a good family bonding experience.
3) Why not spare yourself the exhausting work of creating a traditional Christmas dinner and offer something different for a change? Perhaps a salad? From a bag? Served with a plastic fork? On a store-bought and super cute holiday-themed paper plate? There are no extra points for growing your own artisinal greens, harvesting your own tomatoes, or climbing to remote mountaintops (or Whole Foods… same thing) to procure cruelty-free sage. Your presence and your sanity are more important to your family than you slaving away for hours in the kitchen to prep, cook, and clean. Trust me.
4) Just because you feel you should extend an invite to your in-laws to come over to your house, doesn’t mean you have to let them in!
Seriously, though, the holiday season can take our emotions from the height of ecstasy and then dash us to the depth of despair. They bind us together and they tear us apart. They can move us to great amounts of courage and they can move us to be ugly and our motives to be dirty.
The key to having a healthier holiday season is to be conscious about what you’re doing. his holiday season, don’t just do the things the same way just because you have always done it that way, without thinking it through. If holiday traditions won’t work or, even worse, cause stress, it’s time to do something different!
Traditions can be great but trying new things might be what you need to do!
When you walk through the door of your relative’s house, remind yourself not to revert to childhood and, instead, be an emotionally-health adult!
Be careful not to put too many expectations on the holidays. Your family members that are hard to get along with, and are too opinionated and ungrateful, are still going to be the mess they were before the holidays. Remember, though, that they are your people and were given to you. It is not the time to confront decades-old issues. Go in ready to take a 15-minute walk around the block if you need a time out, take some deep breaths, and perhaps make different plans for next year.
Ultimately, take care of yourself and remember that this is a season to celebrate the greatest of gifts. The most honoring way to do that is to be about grace, peace, and love. If there’s something you’re doing that is opposite of that, you may need to make some changes.
Be safe. Be well. Be merry.