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Making Christmas Functional

December 18, 2012

By Lori Hanson

Christmas is one week from today. How are you feeling about the holidays this year? This can be a time of hope and inspiration, a time of depression, a time to enjoy being with family, or a time when you loathe family get togethers. So many perspectives all piled into one Universe. How can our experiences all be so different?

As you grow up and the family changes, the holidays might not be as fun–or as easy as they used to be. Or perhaps as you got older, it got better. It’s all a matter of perspective. When children grow up and marry and significant others are included in the festivities it changes the interactions and tone of the family gatherings.

There is a reason the morning shows spend time every year talking about holiday stress and how to deal with family issues, because they don’t seem go away. Maybe it’s your mom, or dad, siblings, step-parents or in-laws that cause the stress. It can add up to more demands on your time and more tension. If you love family get togethers and your holidays are like a Norman Rockwell painting, you are blessed and a rarity in a society overloaded with dysfunctional families.

Christmas Family

If, like most people, your family has a healthy dose of dysfunction, the holiday gatherings can be painful. Every year you hope that something will change, but in the end, drama prevails.

Whether your family gatherings are blatantly toxic or just mildly uncomfortable you have a choice about how to handle it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In family relationships this is proven again and again. But what if….

What if you made the decision to create a different approach this year? You can’t control the outcomes, but you can certainly control the inputs.

Three ways to make Christmas more functional:

1. Make peace with sports
If you get annoyed by the amount of football the men in your family watch over the holidays. Let it go.
This happens every year, it’s the end of the season headed into the playoffs for both college and NFL. Instead of trying to change it, recognize that it will happen and change your response to it. Plan dinner at a time when the big game won’t be on (if you don’t know ask when that will be). This will foster more cooperation where before you had consternation.

2. Make the plans and let it go
If you’re hosting, plan the date and time and send out the invites. You can’t please everyone and accommodate all of their schedules. Set the time and allow those who can attend to come. Don’t dog the ones who have other plans.

3. If you’re not sure what to buy for the special someone in your life, ask for help
(If you’re fresh out of ideas, make a point to tune in more in the next year so you’ll know what to do. You can also ask for gift/wish lists.) For this year, ask a friend, your kids or someone who has that special touch for a great gift idea.

By making some simple changes in your approach and attitude about Christmas, it will make it much more functional.


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