In contrast, the holidays can be a stressed filled season reminiscent of arguments from the ghosts of Christmas past. MSN Travel reports that over 100 million people will hit the road this year for the holidays. But if your loved ones are not traveling to you, perhaps consider the last time you gathered.
Often, we take our loved ones for granted, state snarky remarks, or publically shame each other over turkey and eggnog. However, there is only so much even your favorite sister or uncle can take. The high anxiety times of the holidays can be quelled with civility and empathy. A good time where all members are accepted and cherished can make for future visits filled with the same good cheer.
Here are some things to remember for present and future Christmas’ to come:
1) No one wants to be called out for past mistakes, lost jobs, child rearing, or broken relationships over dinner. A family gathering is not the place to “teach someone a lesson.” The public shaming and embarrassment can chase anyone away.
2) Who wants to be the constant butt of harsh jokes? While Christmas movies of late may thrive on dark humor, your relatives probably don’t. There is no need to tease people about an unexpected pregnancy, weight gain, or a bankruptcy . Love them for who they are; avoid joking about sensitive issues.
3) When friends and family travel miles to visit, remember the travel itself is work. Avoid pressuring them to chip in for chores. Remember they fought the traffic and long lines.
4) Consider everyone’s financial situation. Did someone of your family have a prosperous year? Great! But remember everyone didn’t. Try grab bags or secret Santa traditions, as those who have tough financial times may feel awkward if they can’t participate at the same financial level as everyone else.
5) The holidays can be a chance to bury the hatchet. If you parted badly at the last gathering or phone call, perhaps take some private time to truly apologize. Also, apologies are only as good as the action and feeling behind them. If you apologize for bad behavior- only to do it the following day, no one will really believe your apologies.
6) Remember, Christmas and New Years are just two days… did you treat everyone nice all year? Did you yell at people close to you and deny their perspectives last year? If so, it is tough to expect family to travel miles to see you when the last visit or exchange was insulting and lacking civility.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be filled with angst. Consider empathy when dealing with friends and family to make it more likely they will want to your enjoy your company next year. Remember even the most loyal dog will stop coming to you if you kick him enough.
Wishing everyone a truly Happy and Civil Holiday Season!
Read more posts by Leah Hollis, Ed.D. here. Leah is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.