*** New update located below the post. ***
Just before Thanksgiving I start to feel it. At first, it’s just a dark, looming cloud on the horizon. Pretty soon, everywhere I turn, Christmas songs play and perky sales people are in my face. Plans are made for holiday meals with the family. The weight of the “happiest time of the year” hits and all I want is to crawl into bed.
People get the holiday blues for a variety of reasons: loneliness, lack of money to buy gifts, disillusionment over the commercialism, etc. Mine has to do with another big reason – family – and all the emotional garbage that comes with it.
I spent three days watching tv and eating junk food before I recognized the symptoms and what they meant. After many years of problems culminating in the Christmas From Hell last year, I wasn’t ready to deal with my family but didn’t have much choice.
Or did I?
Like a lot of families, we have our clashing personalities, unresolved issues, and agitators. I hated the situation but didn’t exactly want to disown my family.
I thought back, trying to pinpoint where problems typically started. Two things in particular stood out:
We usually gather at the home of the chief agitator. That’s the first problem because the agitator feels free to speak (often insultingly) in his own house. Switching venues will curb that. We’ve noticed this worked for birthday parties and BBQs. Why not Christmas?
Our holiday get-togethers last for half the day because the family matriarch wants nothing more than to “sit and visit.” Well, some people in the family get bored easily. Sniping ensues, leading to arguments and hurt feelings. If we offered games and other things to do, that might keep the mouthy ones busy and distracted.
Change is hard, particularly when dealing with the older generation and holiday traditions. So, I enlisted backup. My brother and sister felt much the same way I did and we created a united front.
We agreed to celebrate Christmas at my house. Instead of a costly and time-consuming meal, we decided to have a light buffet of appetizers, homemade soup, and dessert. We can eat while playing card games, board games, watching movies, and “visiting.” Since we aren’t gathering until 5pm, it should all last about three or four hours, tops. I think many of us are actually looking forward to it this year!
There’s a feeling of heavy immobility that comes with the blues, holiday or not. Making a plan and doing something, even if it’s small, can help you break out of it.
I wish you all a less stressful and more hopeful holiday season.
*** UPDATE ***
Christmas Eve with my husband’s family went well. Christmas Day we spent at home and had a calm, relaxing day. It was heavenly.
Later in the week, Christmas with my family went remarkably well. It was informal, with lots of chatting and laughing.
The light dinner of appetizers and homemade soup was a hit! Different groupings would gather in the kitchen, dining or living room and drift back and forth. Later, we pulled out the Apples to Apples game. This was new to everyone else in the family, so the ones most easily bored were occupied in learning something new.
This was, by far, the best Christmas we’ve had in many, many years.
Also, thank you for your earlier comments! Holidays can sometimes be such a frustrating, discouraging time and words of encouragement are most welcome.
On to 2014! (Even thought we’re a week into it already. *sigh*)