Hope For Tomorrow Counseling

How to Plan NOW for a Merrier Christmas

by: Jane Snider, LPC.

Merrier Christmas, Everyone

Well, today is the day I have been waiting for. Over the weekend I saw my first Christmas display in a local drug store! So, in honor of the fast approaching season, I want you to go on a journey of imagination with me for the next few minutes…

Imagine that it is some random date, say April 10th, for example. All the population is getting ready for our BIG YEARLY HOLIDAY. In fact, we have been getting ready for it since February. Magazines exhort us all to plan and execute “THE PERFECT APRIL 10th HOLIDAY” this year; to have the most glorious and cutest feast, the best home-made wrapping, darling treats and outings for all the children, and certainly, to develop all those precious April 10th traditions that will be passed down for generations in your family. All the homes are decorated with April 10th decorations; families have rushed out to finish their yearly obligatory buying of gifts that they can’t afford for people who don’t want them and then the BIG DAY arrives. All the families rush from home to home, trying to fit in every family member for a visit, a meal and opening presents. People arrive home that evening; stuffed, exhausted, broke and somehow, strangely unsatisfied. Next year, they think, will be the most outstanding April 10th celebration we have had. We just need to try harder!

When you look at it this way, it sounds pretty silly.

Now I know, there are some of you out there who just LOVE April 10th. This is not an attempt to dampen your spirits. However, many people struggle through the holiday season every year for a variety of reason, which I would like to discuss today:

  1. They sadly miss the folks who are no longer with them, sometimes through death or divorce or moving away. Some people have no one with whom to share the holiday.
  2. Children of divorce sometimes dread the holidays because their parents fight over them; get drunk; give them nothing or give them too much; OR they frequently have to choose between one parent or the other or spend the day driving around between parents and grandparents…enjoying nothing.
  3. Families over-spend and fight over the bills. Sometimes one spouse will hide how much he or she has spent, and try to pay it off all year. Overspending is frequently about guilt and not about what the other person wants or needs. Examine your motives,
  4. The day is about the world and what it expects from you on April 10th. It is about what the advertisers have made you BELIEVE, (Thank you, Macy’s), you should be doing. All too often, there is not a shred of spirituality in the April 10th celebration…and it leaves the whole family feeling hollow.

If this sounds familiar and you would like to change it, then consider some of the ways it could be different. Remember, IT IS JUST A DAY. Everything does not have to happen on the same day!

Go to your place of worship; believe in the substance and not just the trappings of this day.

Divorced families,  please talk together civilly and as adults to decide the best solution for the children’s welfare for the holidays. Decide on who will buy what gifts and don’t try to be “the most fun parent or grand-parent”.  Help them make gifts for each other; pick one family outing for the season that the whole family would enjoy. Consider doing one celebration on the holiday with one family and again the following week-end with the other family. Next year, switch the format.

Help someone else; volunteer to feed the hungry that day, or give gifts from Angel Trees. Go to your local Humane Society during the season and adopt a pet or bring gifts for the animals. Visit someone who is lonely and grieving. Invite someone who has no one to dinner and gift opening. Make baked goods and give them away on Christmas Eve. Go caroling in a nursing home and pass out small gifts. Start traditions that matter.

Get some rest, play outside, eat sensibly, play games with the family and snuggle. Give the gift of time together. Make a memory.

Have a Merrier Christmas, everyone!

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