Holiday Merriment or Holiday Mayhem: It’s Your Choice!

Tis the season. Are you ready for the holiday mayhem…or would you like an alternative? There is another choice. It’s called, letting go of all the rules…the should’s, the expectations, the family drama. Instead, be selfish. That’s right, be selfish. Cocoon yourself with your immediate family and make the holidays all about your little family unit. Oh no, you say, we can’t do that. Mom and dad expect us to be there for Thanksgiving dinner. My grandma makes brunch every Christmas morning. The school needs cookies for the bake sale. The neighbor’s are counting on us to attend their annual Christmas Eve Open House. The list is endless. But be honest, are you even on that list? What do you need? What would make your family unit happy this holiday season?

Let’s be clear, letting go of all the rules and all the should’s does not mean you cannot participate in those activities. It simply means that whatever you do, you do out of choice, not a sense of obligation. Expectations leave us feeling stressed and out of control. Choices make us feel happy and in control. They come from a place of pre-planning and discussion with our partner…a place where we have agreement and the feeling that our needs are being considered… an absolute must for a successful holiday season.

 3 Musts for a selfish and successful holiday season:

1. Pre-plan.

Write a list of ideas or desires that would make this a successful holiday season. (You and your partner should each do this separately.) Now, sit down with your partner and compare notes. Talk about what has worked in the past, things you love doing during the holidays. Talk about what hasn’t worked, things you promised that you would never do again. If you both want the same things, great. Go with that. If you would never do again. If you both want the same things, great. Go with that. If there are some discrepancies, you can each explain what makes the items on your list important to you. This is a great time to practice listening without interruption. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and really hear why each item is important to them. When complete, write out your new plan and take a minute to bask in the deliciousness of your holiday vision together. Talk about how much you are looking forward to each aspect of your holiday. If you want to strengthen the new idea even more, close your eyes and visualize each event you have planned. Feel the excitement, the joy, the harmony of every occasion. You can even pick a theme word you want to describe the perfect season…e.g.: fun, family, sharing, harmony. Remember to bring up that word whenever things go off-track They will. And that’s okay. You have the secret to bring it all back to your vision.

2. Well begun is half done.

Make sure you have a solid footing for each event. Whether you are going out to grandma’s for Christmas brunch or entertaining the extended family at your home, make sure the beginning of the day goes smoothly. Set up the day in such a way that you take care of what needs to get done early. That way by the time you are heading out the door for an activity or waiting for the doorbell to ring for your soiree, you will be calm and ready to enjoy it. This will take a little planning. For most women, it will mean being able to ask for help. Be sure to make your requests task and time specific. Our experience is that many men tend to procrastinate; women then get nervous and revert back to the “I might as well do it myself” attitude. This is clearly not what we are looking for. Men, this may mean that you need to plan accordingly so that you do not miss too much of that football game!

3. Be thoughtful.

As a rule of thumb, being thoughtful and showing respect for your partner is crucial to a successful relationship. It is even more important during the holidays. (Your partner comes first and your extended family after them.) Being thoughtful can take many forms. Giving compliments, saying I love you, smiling and giving extra hugs. You can help with chores around the house, volunteer to do the grocery shopping, make dinner. Taking it a step further, you could greet your partner with a glass of wine after a long day at work, draw her a bath, treat him to his favorite dessert. At an even deeper level, you can be aware of how your actions affect your partner’s day. For example, if you are getting up earlier than your partner, get out of bed quietly and leave the lights off so your partner can continue sleeping. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way, especially during the holiday season.

The bottom line is this: come January, do you want to be breathing a sigh of relief… or do you want to be smiling at the memories you’ve made, anxious for another year to pass so you can enjoy another holiday season with your loved ones? It’s easy. With a little planning and a lot of thoughtfulness, smiles and good memories will be enjoyed by one and all.