It’s easy to get caught up in making sure the ham is cooked according to the recipe, that all the kids have the same number of stocking stuffers, or that we get to the Jones’ Christmas party on time. In the middle of all this, we are supposed to have fun- we should enjoy doing all this because it’s Christmas, right? Unfortunately, not guaranteed.
The fun factor can pale in the middle of an argument with the very people we chose to be around. Here are a few ways to help ensure we enjoy the holidays with the people we are closest to.
1) A walk in their stockings
You always have things going on in your life. These things on your proverbial (and literal) plate tend to increase during the holidays. It’s easy to become so focused on this that we forget that this happens to everyone else, as well.
In order to get along with our family members (and enjoy the holiday cheer), it is important that we don’t disregard others’ concerns. Failing to consider and be sensitive to others’ stressors can add to the tension that’s already there. Think about what they have going on and show understanding with a statement such as “I guess you’re a bit concerned about making sure the meal is just right for the guests.”
2) Talk, in moderation
We can’t expect people to empathize or be considerate to what we are experiencing if they have no idea. Vice versa, we can’t do a very good job if we don’t know about what they’re feeling .
Communicating (talking AND listening) about what we’re dealing with can be very important to giving support, being understanding, and at very least not kidding around at the wrong times.
Use “I” statements (not “you”) to express your own feelings and avoid using the word “but”. This will keep the focus on what you feel and not about what they are doing wrong. Respond to “I” statements with “thank you for sharing,” instead of “yeah, but I don’t think that’s anything to worry about.”
3) Opportunities to interact
Part of “togetherness”, especially during the holidays, is the interaction with people you care about. Taking time off from work and being in the same geographic and proximal area is a great start, but doesn’t guarantee the familial sacred cow of quality time.
Set aside 30-60 minutes without common (yet powerful) competing stimuli (TV, video games, earphones, phone calls/texts). It may start out a bit awkward but isn’t everything if we aren’t used to it? Put on some holiday music and see what happens.
4) Choose your “battles”
Before complaining about the colors of the ornaments or arguing your point for taking surface streets rather than the highway, consider the big picture. Ask yourself, “Am I bringing this up because I think it really IS a big deal, or is it just my preference?”
Offer to the other person that you have a preference rather than suggesting that you have the “right” way of doing it (which implies they are wrong). This can go a long way to avoiding unnecessary and fruitless confrontation.
5) Journeys and destinations
Work together with the intention of helping the other person, not necessarily getting a job done and finished. Counterintuitive as it may be, the enjoyment you get is from the act of doing- hanging the lights, picking the Christmas tree- not completing. While doing the task, let its completion be of secondary importance. What ends up happening? The task gets accomplished anyway, and everyone has fun.
In conclusion, be mindful that our enjoyment of the holidays has a lot to do with the people we spend it with. By being cordial and considerate of our loved ones, we will get the same consideration from them and have a pleasant and enjoyable holiday experience.
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