Give yourself a family relationship for Christmas
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
18th December, 20150 Comments
Dreaming of a white argument free Christmas?
A festive holiday season, free from arguments where we have fun with our family – does this seem like the impossible dream for you? You are not alone, for many families and couples they dread the day and the season. Bing Crosby once said that unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it white. Perhaps you are wondering if there are things you can do so you and your family may dream of a white Christmas.
What causes the problems?
In one survey of British families they reported an average of five fights or disputes on Christmas day. These are often because of unresolved problems within the family or throughout the year. The tension and pressure to have a “Happy Christmas” often stands at odds with what is going on in the rest of the year: financial and time pressures, family or relationship tension, bereavements or their anniversaries and isolation. All of this puts pressures on us and these can boil over as we compete to cope.
What practical steps can I take to make a difference this year?
Be clear about your expectations and boundaries
We all feel we want that perfect Christmas, yet the odds are stacked against us if we try to do too much. With so many competing expectations in one room someone is likely to be disappointed. Don’t try to please everyone, try to make Christmas as relaxing as possible for the household. Make sure that you have rest days and time to take care of yourself as well as others. Don’t forget it’s still ok to say “no”.
Tackle issues properly and at the right time
Try to avoid discussion of big issues with your partner or immediately after a few glasses of Christmas cheer. Thinking about what you want to say and choosing a time when you both have time to discuss the issue. Remember to talk about your thoughts and feelings and not be be accusatory. “I am upset I have to do all of the meals on my own” rather than “you never help in the kitchen”. The latter is less likely to change behaviour and give the peaceful Christmas you seek.
It’s easy to go at 100 miles an hour, to try to make everything perfect. But you go so fast that you miss Christmas yourself. It is often said of gardeners that they work all summer in the garden to make it beautiful, but forget to stop and smell the roses - don’t make the same mistake with Christmas. Think about delegating, ask for help. Perhaps there are family traditions that no longer have relevance or could be simplified to create less work. How do you get to enjoy that peaceful time you have worked so hard for?
A final thought
There is a wealth of material online about how to prepare and there are “Christmas hacks” to help reduce that anxiety for the day. Perhaps the key to having a stress free Christmas with your family is to focus on the relationships between you all. On twelfth night the tinsel, food and presents will go but the relationships will remain so look after yourself and them.
About the author
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.
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