365 Days of Fun in Marriage

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If Holiday Get-togethers Are Stressful


Tip 206

Do Something About It

Looking forward to holiday gatherings brings thoughts of memorable movies where everyone greets each other with bear hugs and joyful smiles and warm slaps on the back in eagerness to hear all about what’s happening in your life.

If that’s what your holiday get-togethers are like, skip reading this post. Seriously. Skip it. Stop reading, now. If you don’t, you’ll think the person writing it has a sullen, chip on the shoulder attitude.

We all want our holiday festivities with relatives we rarely see to be everything the movies inspire us to believe they can be. Unfortunately, they aren’t always that way. Maybe some people are too busy to be able to relax well enough to enjoy those few times together. Maybe it’s because some relatives live completely different lives in different worlds and people can’t relate. Maybe everyone is exhausted from packing and traveling and waiting in airport lines or traffic jams or being stranded in snow storms or having to drive with a passenger’s head hung out the car window trying to discern the white line on the edge of the road because the fog is too dense to see the road. Maybe it’s because travel is so much easier now that every relative expects you to be at their gathering the majority of the time and there is no forgiveness if you are late.

Maybe it’s because we don’t take time to try to be caring enough to one another anymore, to be a part of one another’s life even if it is long distance.

There’s really no concrete answer.

You want to have fun and celebrate the holidays. You don’t want to let attitudes or feelings or what someone says ruin your festivities.

1. You’re a team. You and your marriage partner and your children are a team. You love each other. Focus on that.

from Clipart.com

2. If get-togethers with extended family or friends has been uncomfortable more than once (or even once) in the past, then it’s your responsibility to be prepared. You probably already know that Uncle Herman is going to say, “Well, I see you are still as fat/skinny, dumb-looking/stupid-looking as ever.” Aunt Hermione will say, “When will you ever do something with that hair, learn to dress decently, quit dressing like a ____, move back where you belong, quit trying to be somebody you’re not, quit living where it’s so expensive, etc. etc. etc.”

3. You are who you are. Don’t let words hurt you. Do not lower yourself to be rude back.

4. Decide some things you can say or things you can do before you get there to divert the comments or to squelch a comment—something like, “You say the most intriguing things. I’ll have to think about that.” “You’re so sweet. I’d miss your comments if you ever stopped saying things like you do.” “It never occurred to me that I should be miserable in what I’m doing. Let me do some pondering on that and I’ll get back with you.” “Thank you for pointing that out, I’d never noticed, but now, I know.”

None of these suggestions make sense, but that’s where people start getting downtrodden is when they think they can actually change someone else’s behavior. Holidays should be a time of remembrance and a joyful time with happy memories. There’s a popular saying the past few years: If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get the same results. This can be applied to everything in life, but it’s something to think about if you know you are going to be in a fragile situation this holiday time. Plan for what you can do about it. Don’t get irritated at someone else’s behavior. That will spoil your fun. Think about it ahead of time. Make a list if you have to of silly things you can say to stop the comment you don’t want to hear.

5. If a person tries to get very serious about something you don’t want to discuss, then just say, “I don’t want to discuss this” or “I’m not going to discuss this now.”

6. Be prepared. Think of silly things you can say. Don’t let words pull you down. Enjoy the holidays. Actually, it can help to think about why someone always feels led to say such hurtful things. It’s not your problem. Focus on fun with your spouse and your family.

Tomorrow, I’ve got two really short, quick tips to focus on if someone really angers you. But, that’s tomorrow. Life is way too short to feel downtrodden–especially at holidays. Aim for joy in everything you do and fun will follow.

~ Glenda (gj)

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