We often have great expectations for Christmas. We imagine gathering by a fire with our family, laughing and sharing special moments. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Families can often bring stress instead and what is supposed to be a joyous family time can sometimes end up with fallings out and arguments.
To maintain family harmony during the holidays, you need to take charge of making sure things run smoothly. Here are some ideas:
Make your own rules. Recognize that you can’t meet everyone’s expectations but try to include something for everyone in your plans. Rather than allowing plans to be dominated by the minority or majority make sure you think about what everyone wants from the festive period.
Start by making a list of the most important thing for each family member during the Christmas period and then consider if you can make those things happen. If every family member identifies the most important thing or event that makes the holiday special for them then you can look at how to fit all these things into your busy schedules. Put those priorities in your diary.
Then, go through the remaining demands on your time and decide as a unit whether you enjoy it or not. For example, if you have invitations to 5 parties then decide together which ones you genuinely want to go to and then politely decline the remaining invitations.
Don’t feel guilty, the holidays are a time for fun, you shouldn’t feel obligated to go to a party if you don’t want to. You will reduce your stress and increase your joy if you say no sometimes.
Accept help from others on your terms. It’s sometimes hard to accept help in the kitchen at Christmas time, perhaps you have a firm idea on timings, or a certain way you make your mashed potatoes? But remember that there is always a job you can delegate. Relinquish a little control and let someone else fold the napkins, set the table, prepare baking trays or help baste the Turkey. You will appreciate the moments to check items off your list!
Establish your own traditions. Think about your favourite childhood Christmas memories, many of them probably stem from a tradition your family held every year. Traditions are customs that are maintained in generally the same way each time they are performed and are meant to brighten the holidays. Simple things – such as baking cookies or watching a specific movie – can create lasting memories. Don’t be afraid of making new traditions, sometimes it allows a fresh perspective to the proceedings and can allow input from the whole family on something they’d like to enjoy. It might not occur to you until the next year when someone mentions something they really enjoyed the previous Christmas.
Family. Spending time with family at Christmas can be a good thing but the pressures of cooking, gifts and trying to make the day ‘perfect’ can mean that tempers fray and arguments happen. If you sense an argument brewing whether between yourself and someone else or between other family members then suggest a change of scenery, a short walk, a job for someone to do or just the distraction of talking about another subject can break the tension and let things calm down a bit.
Finally, remember Christmas is about family and spending time together, try to enjoy your time with your family and here’s wishing you a harmonious Christmas.
Written by our regular contributor Annwen.
All views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Room To Grow.