Just over four weeks to Christmas… and the celebratory holidays are almost upon us. That distinct buzz, almost tangible seasonable excitement and mish-mash of personalities will be memorable.
Thinking of planning on hosting or attending a family Christmas function? Feeling stressed now that you have committed yourself and have family staying over?
Sometimes, I want to run for the hills when I think of Christmas and all that it entails but I remember that my priority is family, friends, caring and sharing. Boastful Uncle Stan may be even more overbearing than usual, Aunt Aggie’s take charge attitude is bound to rub up the wrong way and horrors of horror, teen queen Hannah insists that boy-friend be a guest… and that they will share a bedroom. Not the example you want to set for your kids. Not easy. Here are some tips to help you cope over the Christmas period :
Choose your battles :
Do not respond to every argument. What you perceive as criticism may be an awkward attempt at assistance.
Remember the retort :
If your parenting skills are under the whip again, keep your response short. Simply say, “thank you for your thoughts”. A trick I learned from a good friend, in response to mothers-in-laws, “know it all” attitude, remind them gently that “I am the parent”.
Refuse to be overwhelmed :
Feeling overwhelmed like I often do? Shift your focus. Get busy in the kitchen, help tidy up or play with the children.
Competitive Cousins :
That expensive name brand item your cousin brandishes? Yet you look AMAZING in what may be suited to your budget and is reflective of your personality? Refuse to be drawn into this fracas. Sure money is important but not at the expense of belittling or undermining someone else. Smile and move on.
Unresolved conflict :
Christmas is not the time to address those issues. Respect each other’s privacy and personal space. Aim for neutrality.
Those people that you are really happy to bond with? Focus on them while being hospitable to others.
Away from home :
A solo Christmas or a small gathering with friends can be just as beautiful. Sure it is not home and hearth but with modern technology, interaction is at your fingertips. Slip into any church over Christmas and you will be well received, this is the voice of experience.
Estrangement and the immediate family :
Estranged from the family due to some overbearing narcissistic personality? Give yourself the gift of peace and indulge in that halo. Peace came at a price, embrace it and create memories with those that are present in the moment.
Bring and share :
No point in slaving over the stove (December is unbearably hot in South Africa and one Christmas, Eskom engineered a back to back load shedding session. I over extended myself in almost every way and did not enjoy Christmas!) Ask for help. Somebody offer to bring a treat? Say and mean your “yes, thank you!”
Presents versus presence :
Your presence is required. Maybe rather focus on presents for the children as compared to killing the budget.
Adamant on presents :
Consider a Secret Santa with a reasonably set friendly budget that all are comfortable with… and have fun!
Plan, plan, plan :
Kill two birds with one stone, have the kids unleash their creativity by doing place cards whilst keeping them busy. Separate the quarrelsome aunts. Later, on entice them to play board games or a game of cricket to keep the atmosphere, light and carefree. Stock up on Christmas crackers, party hats and keep the jokes coming.
Mind the booze :
Too much and it could unleash things you may say and later regret.
The critic :
Aunty Mary complains that the gravy is tooweak. Privately, you know that even if it came from 5 star restaurant, there would still be a complaint. Zone her out. If the gravy is not to her liking, she should have indulged in a “bring and share”!
Perspective, perspective, perspective :
It is only once a year. It is family after all, we cannot chose them as we do our friends and the end will soon be in sight. So go on, listen good naturedly to Aunt Edna bemoan that this is her last earthly Christmas. Make the best of it. Wave them off with love and satisfaction of a gathering filled with memories and fun.
Get your frame of mind on track. Before the rush begins, settle for some quiet time with a cup of tea or maybe even meditate. The period leading up to Christmas is an overwhelming time for little people too. Remember the Home Alone movies? Somehow it always seems to be screened at Christmas and is always viewed. Ensure that your children are entertained, settle disputes calmly to prevent tantrums.
It is important to remember the elderly who made time and created memories for us. This period may be increasingly difficult for those governed by death, divorce, estrangement and other circumstances. It may not always be possible for the entire family to sit down together for Christmas lunch. Newly wedded couples have two sets of parents and even more to share time with. If not Christmas lunch, then pudding time. If not that, then a friendly game in the garden. The trick is to compromise.
The aim is to enjoy Christmas, the reason and the season of goodwill.
Main image courtesy of healthcomu