Wednesday, 03 December 2014 11:49

Making the Most of Your Holidays

Written by  Nancy Thomas, LPC
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“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”(Luke 2:10)


The upcoming Christmas holidays can be marked with profound conflicting experiences.  Christmas may include joy, time for personal reflection, spiritual growth, gathering with family and friends or long held family traditions.  However, family tension, stressful schedules, financial strain, sad memories, childhood disappointments, pain, conflicts, grief and unfulfilled expectations may also be unwelcome guests.  

Many times, adults wonder how they revert so easily into unpleasant childhood roles. For some, Christmas holidays represent dread, apprehension, expenses, unpleasantness and a time to be endured. Divorce and remarriage can also impact family traditions suddenly by the need to divide or blend long held traditions.


When we have conflicting emotions, it is probably a good idea to re-evaluate our holiday traditions. Perhaps it is time to develop new traditions that are spiritual and nurturing.


Traditions with family and extended family change with the family life cycle, as children and grandchildren grow to adulthood, marry and have children of their own; they must incorporate the families of their spouses.  How are your traditions working? 


Adult siblings may place a priority on being with their children and grandchildren instead of their family of origin.  A family member may be unable to come home due to military service. Suddenly, the large extended family gatherings may not take place on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.


Not being prepared for these changes can leave you feeling lonely and sad over the holidays. Being prepared and thoughtfully updating traditions allows you to embrace the holidays with joy.

What is the best way to address these issues?  First of all, looking back on recent holidays, what did you find the most fulfilling, memorable or enjoyable?  What were the most stressful aspects of the holidays?  What activities resulted in spiritual blessings for you or others? 


Is there a way to modify the activities?  Can you eliminate extraneous activities?  What can be added that is meaningful?  Who would you like to include in your holiday plans?  Is considering alternative dates for gatherings appropriate?  Does the time spent with family need to be shortened or lengthened?  Are others interested in developing new holiday traditions in your family, among your friends or at your church?  Does your budget need to be modified?  Have you made God a priority?


Include the others you plan to involve in your holidays in the discussion of what is valuable, meaningful, and treasured. What gives your life meaning?  Do you want more or less time with family?  More or less travel?  More or less time with friends? More or less time cooking?  More or less time giving time to those less fortunate?  More or less time resting and renewing?


If you spend time with family, be sure to give yourself a break from the togetherness to refresh your peace of mind.  Offer to go to the store or run errands. Take a walk, take the kids to the zoo, the park or shopping. Consider attending a movie or play. Relieve family from preparing a meal by eating a meal out with friends, picking up food, or cooking.  Consider staying in a hotel instead being cramped where tensions can rise.  It is surprising how helpful this can be. 


Have a scavenger hunt for the kids, bake cookies with the children, develop a crossword puzzle or game with family trivia for everyone to play.  Have prizes for the games.  Have the children bring costumes and act out Luke 2.  If children aren’t involved, be sure to read the Christmas story.


Increase participation in spiritual activities. Attend Christmas services, concerts, plays or movies.  Bless your support network by inviting friends or acquaintances to share in your celebration.  Develop a memory or blessings box for everyone to contribute memories about each other.  Create a group video of affirmations and memories to share, even with those who can’t attend.  Play beautiful Christmas music.


Above all, remember and experience the miracle of Jesus’ birth.  Experience the joy, peace of mind and peace of soul that only belief in Jesus can provide.   


Luke 2:14:  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”




Last modified on Saturday, 03 January 2015 12:06
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