While there is truth in the cliche “home is where the heart is” for many people, for some home is more like where the DRAMA is.  With the holidays coming up, the idea of spending time with “loved ones” can often be more of a source of stress than of comfort.
While I’m not a relationship expert, I’ve got plenty of my own personal experience on which to say I can completely understand the feelings of impending doom that the holidays can sometimes bring.  But what I’ve been learning is that it doesn’t HAVE to be that way.  I (along with my husband) am in charge of how our family spends our holidays and if a situation is not beneficial for us, we simply don’t need to be there.  Families are complicated and if you think yours is the only one with problems, you are mistaken.  While of course some families have more than their fair share of drama, all families have at least some. 
At different time sin my life, it has been different parts of my family that have caused stress or tension, and of course I wasn’t always blameless in it all.  But sometimes I may be the only one with an issue with another family member and I have forced myself (or been forced) to swallow my pride and simply be polite for the benefit of the rest of the family.  But there are times when it really is not the best thing for my kids to be in that situation and we have made the hard choices not to be with certain people on a holiday.  If you find yourself in this situation, you will likely recieve pressure from someone else to change your mind.  You will hear how holidays are for families to be together.  Or you may even be accused of “tearing a family apart.”
But I say as long as you are making this decision out of a legitimate concern and not spite or vengefulness, simply tell others that you are doing what’s best for your and your family this year.  Let them know that maybe things will change in the future but that simply isn’t something you can do this year. 
Others get along fine with family but are simply pulled in too many directions, attempting to see everyone in one day or weekend and are left exhausted and not having enjoyed themselves at all when its all over.  If this is you, you need to reconsider your plans.  The holidays really are about spending time together but if you’re running in and out of places so quickly that you haven’t really BEEN with anyone, what’s the point?  There are plenty of alternatives, from alternating spending holidays with different families groups each year, to having everyone come to you if that’s feasible.  If you have children consider what their memories of the holiday’s will be.  Will they remember the wonderful time spent with family or will they remember hours spent in the car? 
No matter what your plans are for the upcoming holiday, just make sure you’re taking the time to decide whether you’re really doing what you want to be doing or if you’re doing what others are expecting of you.  If there isn’t joy in your holiday traditions, make a point this year to reevaluate and do something different.  And don’t forget to pass me some pumpkin pie while you’re at it.
 

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