Very recently, I had a session with a couple that was relaying to me how their holidays typically go. With both Thanksgiving and Christmas, the two of them stop at no less than 5 or 6 different households in 1 day. My jaw about dropped to the floor, as they regaled me with how the day unfolds, beginning at 9 a.m. and not stopping until well after midnight (and mind you, they eat at every household).
Their eyes rolled, as they explained to me, how dreaded this season is, how pressured it is, and how they feel overwhelmed, and do not want to partake in any of it. I asked them, ‘why do you do it?’ Their answer was pretty straight forward: ‘because if we don’t, we will get guilt tripped from every one of them’.
I then went on to explain to them, that continuing to participate in this pressured madness is not going to help the situation. Boundaries have to be set, and new traditions need to emerge-not only for the sake of their relationship, but to send a message to all of these family members, that this is just not ok.
I am certainly not saying that you shun family members, but there has to be some balance-especially when you are in a relationship, or married, and feeling torn between households to attend. The holiday guilt as I call it, is designed to keep the status quo. People do not like traditions being changed, and the boat being rocked. But if you continue to follow along like my couple has done for many years, it will make you miserable.
And is that really the sense of joy you wish to have over the holiday season?
And here is the thing… if you do not make the changes or adjustments? Who will?
Have you ever wanted to go against the grain? And not even attend a Thanksgiving dinner? Dreamed of passing out meals to the homeless instead? Or, go out of town? Provided there is balance, and that you are not completely avoiding everyone all together, why not?
We get one life to live as they say, and the only person that can speak up for you-is YOU.
Many, many years ago, I vacationed in Florida over Christmas. I will never forget walking on the sandy beach saying Merry Christmas that day to those walking by. Everyone seemed so happy! It was truly one of the best holidays I can remember. I made sure of course, to spend time with my family before departing, but I cannot tell you how distressed I was, when everyone back home was overwhelmed and spent. That was a long time ago-when I was a college student, and in my early 20’s, but I never forgot the valuable lesson that it taught me. Don’t be afraid to take the chance on your own happiness and stop allowing others putting pressure on you-just to keep the tradition.
Where is it written after all, that traditions cannot be changed? And those adjustments and changes-may be just what the anti-guilt Dr. ordered. Happy (distressed) Holidays Everyone!