Michele O'Mara

10 Tips for Managing the Holidays

Filed By Michele O'Mara | December 19, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: lesbian, managing, stress

As promised, I've put together a quick list of 10 tips to help you negotiate the upcoming holidays. Here goes...

  1. Be intentional and decisive about how you spend the holidays Families tend to expect the same behaviors each year, so if you set precedence from the start, of doing holidays separately, it's harder to break that pattern later on. Be smart, intentional, honest, and true to yourself about how you organize your holiday plans.
  2. Consider how your heterosexual brothers and sisters manage their holiday dilemmas. Do not allow your families to dictate HOW you approach the holidays. Take responsibility for your holidays and insure that what you are doing captures the essence of the season for you (if you are single), and for you and your partner if you are in a relationship.
  3. Be creative. Consider options that are brand new. Start your own rituals. Instead of looking only at the options that are posed to you, create options of your own.
    • Host holidays at your house, inviting both families causing others to have to make a choice, rather than you
    • Alternate holidays (e.g. this year T-giving with my family and X-mas with yours, next the opposite)
    • Go on vacation instead together during the holidays and celebrate holidays before or after the actual holiday
    • Split the day between both families (if within reasonable driving distance)
  1. Anticipate awkward situations. If you are anxious about aspects of your holiday celebration with your family, anticipate and prepare for these experiences. For example, Bring along gifts for your partner (and or children) to open if you anticipate he or she will not be included in gift exchanges with your family. Stay in a hotel if your family expects you and your partner to sleep separately. (Politely explain that you wish to respect their wishes and have opted to stay at a nearby hotel instead.)
  2. Consider rejecting invitations that don't include your partner for family celebration. Unless there are compelling circumstances (like a parent is on his death bed) that will leave you regretting not attending, set a precedence that you will only accept invitations that include both you and your partner.
  3. Incorporate loved ones who have died. By reminiscing, sharing memories and stories of past holidays spend with the loved one. You can also create a ritual or tradition for the holiday season that honors your loved one. One example is to exchange tree ornaments that are in memory of the loved one, or you could visit the gravesite as a family, or say a prayer for him or her. Find your own way and be sure to include all of the people you love - alive or not - in your celebration.
  4. Learn from the pain that surfaces from the holidays and use as your guide for New Year's resolutions and to identify the changes that need to occur this year to prevent the same pain again next year
  5. Observe, don't participate in the chaos. If you come from a lively family who is known for fussing and fighting, choose to NOT participate. View this as an interesting study in human behavior - take yourself outside of the situation and become an observer, not a participant in any negative, conflicted interactions. Be the family member you wish others would be - and leave feeling good about yourself.
  6. Volunteer. If you find yourself alone during the holidays consider volunteering. So many people are in need year round, and over the holidays many organizations offer meals, and gift drives, and other activities to support various groups of people. If you want to find a new appreciation for all that you have in your life, despite your loneliness over the holidays, volunteer!
  7. Announce your holiday plans prior to the actual holiday. To avoid conflicts on the day of your celebration, be sure that your friends, family and partner do not have expectations of you based on your NOT having shared your actual plans in advance.

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The biggest message here seems to be to plan things in advance. that's the best way to relieve stress in all sorts of situations.