Christmas isn't always the easiest season, despite the snowfall, Santa and all the rest. The pressure to make everyone happy, meet expectations and relax can be overwhelming--especially when you have the complication of trying to make meaningful memories when everyone involved (yourself included) won't win any awards from Dr. Phil anytime soon.
Christmas has been a very painful time for me over the last few years--between the dissolution of a marriage and strained relationships across extended family lines. Here's my Rx for getting through the holiday just in case you've been there, too.
Keep it simple. You can let go of all your grand plans. The holiday picture, the Nutcracker, perfectly thought through presents. Yesterday the kids helped me write plain old white cards for their teachers while listening to the very non-Christmas-y local pop station. No Christmas photo op there, but it made everyone happy and got the job done.
File the bad news away for another day. Now is not the time to take on major behavior issues, fix your marriage or have a family meeting about the general state of crabbiness in the house. I can see that there are some things that need to be addressed around here, but waiting until January won't make matters worse.
Allow a small indulgence. And I don't mean chocolate or Christmas cookies--you're already in deep on those points, right? I mean the indulgence of stepping out of a familiar family drama, the indulgence of passing on a painful family function, the indulgence of NOT being a bridge builder when you really want to take a nap. You can justify this by hunkering down and enjoying your children who will be thrilled to have more of you, trust me.
Invite the real. Now is not the time for tales of Christmas bliss. Let your Christmas theater be all Charlie Brown and that mean one, Mr. Grinch. These stories address the hard parts of holidays and how it's difficult for us to all get on the same page--and kids can relate. Grown up versions are The Family Stone and Elf--where family dysfunction gets mixed up with just the right mix of redemption.
Maximize your together times, no matter how they come. Right now my kids are obsessed with a show on television that deals with death, grief and the after-life. This particular show skirts the horror genre a little bit too much for my taste, but it has them riveted, as we all process the losses happening in our family at the moment. While this is not the Christmas memory to write home about, we look forward to this time together each and every night--this holiday especially.
Do something unexpected. Sometimes when you're deep in your own mire, it helps to reach out and delight someone else. I spent the day yesterday writing little wishes for the new year for people near me who aren't expecting a thing this Christmas. It didn't take that much time, but it helped me remember the best medicine is being able to offer what's most needed in your world. Today, I hope to entice my kids to do the same.
Do you struggle with this time of year? Feel free to say yes and add your own Rx in the comments below.