Normally on my radio program, we try to vary the subject matter of the calls I take so that each hour has a wide range of issues, philosophies, ideas, information, insight and dilemmas. However, during the holiday season, this becomes almost impossible. It seems that family dynamics (especially the negative ones) just take over people’s lives. This includes everything from having to buy gifts for (or people (or deal with family members) you don’t like, having to go to dinner and parties you don’t really want to go to, to having to travel to four different sets of divorced parents’ houses and have to deal with their new spouses. And on and on and on….
One of the main problems causing you stress at this time is your unwillingness to accept what “is,” and just hum your way through some unpleasant moments and unpleasant people, and your unwillingness to accept responsibility for making choices that will annoy some others, but will save yourself.
1. If you have four divorced parents or four sets of in-laws, just have the dinner at YOUR house. Invite everyone, and let them sort themselves out.
2. If you’re at a family gathering with one or two bad apples, just steer yourself toward the people you do like and immerse yourself in pleasant conversation, virtually ignoring the troublemakers after a cordial “hello.” If the troublemakers start arguments or get drunk or unruly, excuse yourself and leave. Do what it takes to keep your blood pressure down and enjoy the holiday time.
3. If relatives are visiting, put them up at a local inn. They and you will then have the necessary privacy to keep tensions to a minimum. Pay for the hotel yourself. It’s a small price to pay for serenity.
4. If you’re invited out of town, and you don’t really want to go, don’t travel. Start new traditions in your own home.
As for accepting what “is,” if there are some situations and people you’d rather avoid, but this would bring pain to others who would miss you terribly, go with good humor, become the life of the party, enjoy what there is to appreciate, and know that in your heart, you did a good deed and the right thing.