Emotions During the Holidays
Everyone experiences different emotions during the holidays, especially Christmas. How a person reacts is connected to where they are emotionally during the holiday. Perhaps it is the first time a family will not be together for the holiday, perhaps there is on-going family drama during every holiday, perhaps the time of year represents a loss, perhaps the holiday will be spent alone or perhaps the holiday, especially Christmas, has long-term financial implications. No one knows for sure what is going on in another person’s mind. Some tips for managing your own emotions and your reactions to others’ emotions that may make the holiday easier are discussed below.
Not coming Home for Christmas
Every family comes to the point when everyone cannot get together to celebrate holidays. Christmas, in particular, seems to create a lot of emotional feelings. Distance, financial situations and work obligations often prevent getting together.
Personal choices for celebrating holidays often change as young people grow and choose and become more independent. The fact is this time will come in most families and old holiday traditions will need to be replaced with new ones.
Parents, remember why you raised them to be independent, to think for themselves and make their own decisions! Do not be upset if your child prefers to go skiing with friends or take a beach vacation with their partner during the holidays. You taught them to make choices and you did an excellent job.
Be happy for them! Accept their plan with enthusiasm (even when you are disappointed). Show interest in their plans and support their choices.
Hey, parents! You still have to put up some decorations even if you do not feel like it. You may choose to replace the 10 foot tree with a 10 inch one, but that does not matter. You must continue to celebrate the holiday so the child will know you are alright.
Now you have new opportunities! Maybe you want to open gifts at night and have dinner Christmas Eve so you can go to the movies Christmas afternoon. Maybe you want to go to the local ski hill yourself. Better still, maybe you want go on a cruise! All that matters is that you continue to celebrate in a way that is meaningful for yourself and shows your other family members you are doing great!
Pay more attention to social events going on in the community. Attend the high school Christmas play. Attend the Christmas Choir event. Have a party for your co-workers. Have a pre-Christmas party for some of your other relatives. These are just a few things you may have more time for when you are not looking after a home filled with children.
Family Drama During the Holidays
What would Christmas be without family drama? Movie writers have made a lot of money developing films about family drama at Christmas! These movies help us to see family Christmas drama with a sense of humor, acceptance and insight. Some tips for managing family drama are discussed below.
For example, ‘Yes, Uncle Jack may drink too much and become obnoxious.’ Stop judging him. Do not waste your energy on something you cannot do anything about. Uncle Jack may over indulge because he suffers from alcoholism, or he associates Christmas with something negative from the past or maybe he just plain does not do well in social situations. You never know the whole story about someone else.
Make sure you do not judge the person for their actions during the holidays. Be pleasant and respectful to them. Do not engage in negative talk about the person with others. This feeds on group judgment and spreads negativism. Do not confront or embarrass the person. This will only create more drama and perhaps cause riffs among family members.
Sadness During the Holidays
Many people cannot muster up much joy or cheerfulness during the holiday season and find some of the holiday traditions and people who are trying to cheer them up irritating. Again you do not know what they are going through. Maybe a loved one passed away during the holiday season, maybe the person or one of their loved ones has recently received a serious diagnosis and does not want to spoil anyone else’s holiday by sharing the bad news, maybe someone’s partner left them during a past holiday season or a decision has been made to separate after this holiday season. No one likes to feel responsible for sharing sad news during the holiday season.
Respect the person’s need for emotional privacy. Do not force them to take part in any Christmas activities if they express any resistance. Do not say things like, ‘Oh, come on, it will make you feel better.’ It will not make them feel better but it will most likely make them feel angry. When a sad person says, ‘no,’ be respectful and say something like, ‘I understand, is there anything I can do for you?’
Alone During the Holidays
We have spent a lot of time talking about family celebrations and family drama, but what about a person who does not have a family to celebrate with or any family drama to complain about? Some tips that may help you manage being completely alone during the holiday are discussed below.
First of all, remember you are not the only person spending Christmas alone.
Secondly, Christmas is about giving.
Invite a lonely neighbor to your place for tea and Christmas treats rather than giving the traditional box of candy. If the person cannot come to your home, they may invite you to theirs. Simply take a hot pot of tea and some treats and with with them for a short while. In January your neighbor might look back on the visit and think, ‘My neighbor gave me the best Christmas gift ever. She invited me to her home.’ Or ‘My neighbor came for a Christmas visit. That was so nice of her.
Organize a Christmas get-together for nursing home residents, the elderly in apartment complexes or children at the Boys and Girls Club or homeless shelters. Does this sound too big or too complicated? It is not! All you have to do is gather up some holiday treats and appear. The rest will take care of itself.
In January, the individuals will still remember feeling included during the holiday and say, ‘It was the best Christmas surprise ever, we had a wonderful time getting together.’ Giving a couple of hours of your time means so much to others.
It is your co-worker’s turn to work a 12-hour shift on Christmas and she has three small children. You could offer to work the shift for her or you could ask two co-workers to join you and each work four hours so she can be home with her family for the holiday.
Gift Giving During the Holidays
Did you get caught up in the Black Friday Sale events? Many people do and pay for it in January. Whatever happened to meaningful gifts?
We always hear that giving is better than receiving, so give a gift to someone that brings joy, not a sweater that does not fit or is the wrong color. Buy someone a goat, pig or a chicken in an underdeveloped country. Buy supplies for the SPCA or some other organization.
Relatives may be shocked but they will get used to it. You can even give children gifts like this and it will teach them about giving. Christmas is about helping and making someone else feel good. As John Andrew Holmes said, “. . . for many the Christmas season has come to mean the period when the public plays Santa Claus to the merchants”. I do wish the merchants well but what is commercialism at Christmas teaching our children?