Maybe it is just me, but the holidays can be challenging. Sure, I love them but they wear on me So, maybe it’s not the holidays after all.
Maybe the challenge is me…
I have my patterns every year. I try to do more than I should, have high expectations and probably suffer from mild Seasonal Affective Disorder.
There was a time when the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas was the annual occasion for my “meltdown”. It would usually start with anger and end with depression.
Today, I’m much better because of God’s work in my life. (Thank you again, Father!)
But enough about me.
HOW ABOUT YOU AND THE HOLIDAYS?
Do you wear yourself out trying to make everything perfect?
Have high expectations that can probably never be met?
Dread getting together with your dysfunctional friends and family?
Get depressed in the process?
Feel like giving up before even starting?
Love that fun feeling of shopping elbow-to-elbow with other shoppers?
Let me assure you. If you identify, you are more normal than you think.
Here is what psychologists think about holiday stress. And what a MOM thinks about holiday expectations. So what do we do?
Our word “holiday” comes from the two words, “holy” and “day”. Holy Days were times of rest and relaxation. They were the times when the saints (that should be you) stopped their daily schedules and rested in God, They focused on His works and their life with Him.
HMMM. Maybe this doesn’t sound like your holidays? (tinge of sarcasm intended)
With this in mind, here are some thoughts for you, your spouse and your marriage on how to have a better holiday this year.
1. BE HOLY
Slow down. Think about why this time is HOLY. Focus on the relationships, not just the food, shopping and gifts. Create times for conversation. Sit in front of a fire. Take a nap. Pray.
2. BE IN AGREEMENT
Your spouse is different from you and sees your blind spots (just occasionally). Invite them into your decision-making. Risk that there might be an argument and have a discussion. Then do this next thing.
3. BE HUMBLE
Pride comes before a fall. And the Fall is a time when our pride wants to create a perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas season. Listen to your spouse and friends. As you know from the movie “Frozen“, it may be time to “Let it go”.
4. BE REALISTIC
Last time we looked, you are a human being and you have certain limitations and needs in order to survive. Ignore your needs at your own peril. You are the one responsible for taking care of yourself, so do it. Even when other needs are sadly crying for your attention.
5. BE FUN
Give others experiences that they will treasure. Do a family puzzle. Set aside time for naps, reading, taking a walk and exercising. Make a plan of what is reasonable and stick to it.
Now for some radical Ideas for Thanksgiving
Here is what we are talking about in our home for a COVID 19 Thanksgiving. Maybe you will find something that you can use for your family.
1. Taking a drive to a Christmas Light event. This meets all CDC rules and get us out of the house. Go to a neighborhood or to an organized drive-through event in your area.
2. Family soccer game. We start at 9 years old and go to 66 years old. And some of the grandchildren are soccer stars. So we will be making some rule changes so all can participate. Can’t run? Be a referee or coach! Also have lots of prizes…
3. Two Mile Run/Walk. We give prizes to everyone, not just the “winners”. Set it up in your neighborhood.
4. Paintball. Yes, this sounds scary but consider that you rarely get close to anyone when played outdoors. And you can use those “softer” paintballs and hide behind something at most places.
5. Go to a Movie. What? That’s crazy. Well actually it isn’t. If you check with your local Cinemark, they allow reservations and enforce a six foot boundary around your group. I know because I reserved all of our seats together in one big happy clump..
6. Heirloom Gifts. This year we are handing out some memento items we have to our kids and grandkids. Each of these “heirlooms” has a memory associated with them. These aren’t fancy things but mementos we have collected over the years. Once our kids get them, they are free to keep or dispose of them. That’s our rule. The real emphasis is to share something about our lives with them.
7. Scripture Cards. For those hard-core fanatics of God’s word, like me, find a scripture for each person in your family. It should be positive and encouraging (don’t try to admonish them…). Print it out or write it on a card. Have each person read their scripture and talk about what it means to them. For bonus points, write something you are thankful for about that person and have them read that too!
Since 7 is the perfect number, I’m stopping with this. Have a Holy Holiday!