For many of us the lure of a ‘perfect’ Christmas lurks in our subconscious and advertisers, of course, play into this desire for serving the best food, making the home look super cosy and festive and ensuring everyone is wonderfully “suited and booted”.
The reality usually involves anxiety, tensions and arguments in the lead up to the 25th and often between the stockings, crackers, games and TV.
The pressures may be even greater after last year’s Christmas in lockdown and the threat of shortages this year. Here are 4 simple tips to help you avoid some of the stress and have a happier time as a family this Christmas.
1. Share — and maybe reset — some of your expectations
It’s so easy to go on autopilot and play the usual roles at Christmas, whatever they look like in your family. This leaves one person — often mum — carrying the burden of it all. Instead sit down for a few minutes with your other half and talk about your expectations, what you would like your celebration to look like and what you don’t want to happen?
Having this kind of simple conversation gets a lot into the open and will enable you to plan together and share ideas too.
2. Be proactive
If you’re the one who generally organises and does the shopping, wrapping, cooking etc, ask for help and support. It’s a good idea to be specific about the tasks you want help with and its worth being clear about expected timescales. You may have to accept that others do things differently, and maybe not up to your standards, but a team effort gets everyone involved as well as spreading the load (even sulky teenagers will usually do their bit when asked nicely …or if necessary cajoled into helping in return for your support with other things.)
If you’re the partner of the chief organiser then be proactive in offering support. Tip: Instead of saying: “Do you need any help?” (Where the answer is often “I’m ok…”) Ask: “What can I do to help today?”
3. Deal with the little things before they become big things
Our natural ways of handling conflict often work against us and make conflict worse. Conflict avoiders will try to avoid awkward conversations and get prickly and defensive. The rhinos will charge in and shout. Whether you’re more like a hedgehog or rhino in an argument, try instead to nip problems in the bud by recognising your own rising feelings and finding positive solutions together: “I’m feeling upset about …what can we do differently?”
4. Remember the reason for the season
It’s so easy for consumerism and hype to upstage or take away the point of Christmas. Make a little time and space to sit alone and, or with your loved ones to savour the reason for the season — the birth of Jesus. Take a moment to wonder at the mystery and beauty of the hope brought through the birth of the Christ child.
The idea of counting blessings really does make you happier, so ask yourself: what am I grateful for this Christmas?
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