Happy family holidays don’t just happen. They require a precious balance of self-care and self-sacrifice. Here is a list of suggestions to help you spread joy and keep peace with the family this Christmas.
1. Be tolerant. Extra doses of patience, acceptance and humor during this time of enforced togetherness is the key to enjoyable family holidays.
2. Adjust your expectations. Avoid the urge to idealize the holidays. With modest, realistic expectations, you’re more likely to enjoy yourself and your family.
3. Keep holiday rituals flexible. Draw a distinction between the holidays as institutions and what they mean to you and your family.
4. Examine family traditions each year; dispense with those parts of your celebrations that don’t work, and preserve what means most.
5. Create new rituals that reflect family changes. Max and I have celebrated Christmas on Dec. 26th since our children have married, allowing them to spend the 25th with the in-laws and then the next day with us.
6. Make plans. Don’t leave holiday celebrations to chance. Let loved ones know what your plans, intentions and expectations are.
7. Take care of yourself. Traveling disturbs normal routines. Eat and exercise regularly, and try to get some time alone.
8. Don’t regress! Returning to your childhood home often reactivates childhood feelings and fears. It’s important to maintain your boundaries — physical, emotional and intellectual. You may even want to consider staying in a hotel rather than your childhood bed.
9. Contain family tensions so they don’t ruin your holiday. Families need this time to enjoy special events together. Remember, family relationships are more important than petty arguments. Accept your differences, and keep your sense of good cheer. Ask yourself: “Do I want to be right or do I want a relationship?”
Proverbs 15:1: A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
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For more biblical advice on how to handle the holidays, check out Staying Sane During the Holidays