by Cassie Moore, ACNM Writer and Editor
I think everyone does it on some level—you go home for the holidays and
suddenly you feel like you’re 16 again (or whichever age was most angsty for
you). You get into the same old argumentative pattern with your parents. Or a
sibling teases you about something you’re sensitive about, like your
appearance. Or you get sucked into a hysterical political argument. Or you feel
guilty about not buying the right gift, or not buying a gift at all, or not
driving to see all of your friends within a 30 mile radius of your home.
When I was about eight years old, there was some type of mix-up at my
grandparents’ house and the gift I had picked out for my grandmother was
actually opened by my aunt. I don’t think my grandmother even noticed or cared
that I didn’t get her a gift—but I noticed, and boy did I feel guilty about it!
I went upstairs and cried and felt horrible for the days and even weeks to
follow. I look back now and think to myself how silly it was to get upset about something so insignificant. But
sometimes it’s hard to see that perspective when we’re in the situation.
Holidays have a way of heightening drama, especially family drama. I am making
some changes to my holiday routine this year so that it’s less stressful—an airplane
ride with my two-year-old is stressful enough, thank you!—and here are some of
the ideas I have come across. Please share your own in the comments.
Hairpin has a wonderful post about setting boundaries with family members.
The great thing about this post is that the author encourages readers to stand
up for themselves not in a retaliatory or angry way, but kindly and firmly.
-If you’re overwhelmed with present-buying, or just broke, explain to your
family and friends that you’d prefer to spend time with them or donate a few
bucks to a cause they support instead of worrying about presents. You may find that
many of them enthusiastically agree with you!
-If you prefer your own space and can afford it, look into
getting a hotel for the time you’ll be visiting your family. It’s nice to be
able to get away and recharge on your own. Think of the additional cost as an
investment in your emotional health.
-If you can’t see a friend or a relative, don’t spend your time stressing about
it. Give them a call or send them an e-mail or a card to let them know you’re
thinking of them.
-Try to be kind—your loved ones might snap at you for reasons that have nothing
to do with you! Resist the urge to engage in an argument and…
-Take a long walk or exercise another way—it really will make you feel better.
-Say to heck with it and just stay home. Better yet, head to the beach!
We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and hope you all have safe travels
and a Happy New Year!