Christmas is a very special time of the year, but by its very special nature, it is highly anxiety provoking. We are meeting with people who touch our deepest selves. We share with them memories (good and bad), traditions (good and bad), and relationships (good and bad). They have known us with 80’s perm hair and Bed Head hair that took us hours to perfect. They met our worst significant others and have watched us fail and succeed throughout our lives. No wonder this is a stressful season! How do we connect without the chaos?
- Plan to be connected throughout the year. Make sure this isn’t the only time you talk to your loved ones. More contact, especially if it is positive, allows you to balance the good and the bad. It also diminishes the pressure to make this time work out well.
- Plan for the people who are coming. Think about ways to make the holiday fun for everyone. If there are lots of kids, have activities like sports or art projects for them to do. If there are more adults, plan a card game.
- Plan for down time. Both elderly and children need time to be quiet every day, even if they aren’t sleeping. It helps everyone feel less stressed if there are walks, rests, and quieter times interspersed with lots of activities.
- Plan to give big news to people in private and then as a group. It allows everyone to decide how to act, not just react.
- Plan traditions. One of my children’s grandparents has a special bag that has books, activities, games that they play with whenever she comes. It helps them to connect her with the fun things in her bag and gives her unique ways to connect to them when she sees them. They may not always see Gran Joy at her home, but they always see her with her Gran Joy bag.
- Plan to only address problems of safety at a holiday gathering. Most people are on their best behavior at a party. Set out guidelines before (such as no drinking or smoking, etc) and save other issues for a different time.
Have a terrific Christmas gathering with your loved ones! May God bless you throughout the New Year as well!