What life lessons have you forgotten this holiday season?
All around us are images of families around dinner tables and Christmas trees happily exchanging gifts. As many people do, I anxiously anticipate the holidays: the shopping, the baking and decorating. As the holidays approach, worry sets in. We all start thinking “What family member is it going to be this year?” Will it be my sister-in-law, who lost her filter many years ago? Telling my niece that her skirt is too short and that her tattoo on her wrist is “unladylike.” Or will it be my father-in-law who no longer can recall which grandchild is who because of his aggressive dementia? These exchanges are what we fondly refer to as family dynamics.
The holidays are a wonderful time for memories, family and the potential for a tremendous amount of STRESS! These days. we throw the term ‘dysfunctional family’ around very casually. In all honesty, we all have family issues from heartbreaking tragedy to hidden skeletons in the closet. No family is perfect and it is often these imperfections that actually make us stronger and perfectly imperfect. However, we do not see this in the moment. We lose the ability to see through the potential issues and become stressed over everything little thing trying to make it perfect.
As we grow older, our many experiences make us wiser. The lessons learned have not and will not come easy or without significant growing pains. As the holidays are upon us I would like to share 3 key lessons to remember in hopes of making your holidays less stressful.
Having a somewhat difficult childhood as I spent most of my childhood and all of my teen years in a children’s home I learned that you must be grateful, nothing is a given. Christmas gifts were donated and a staff member went through them distributing toys based on if they were for a boy or girl. Knowing that all of us could have gotten nothing really put that gift into perspective.
So if your husband gives you a mixer as a gift, don’t fret that it wasn’t that expensive tennis bracelet you wanted. His thoughts were about you when he purchased it and that is something to appreciate.
I find myself smiling as I am recalling a moment from the movie “Father of the Bride” when the new boyfriend gives the bride to be a blender. He truly thought she might want to “blend” something. My children have been less than pleased with an “ugly” sweater from Grandma. I try to remind them that although it may not be what they wanted, as it was not the latest video game, she put effort and thought into that gift. She purchased it specifically for them because of how much she cares for them.
Being grateful is hard sometimes but remembering that each gift comes with love helps to humble your holiday to a more peaceful one.
Having not grown up with family I found myself missing things that many take for granted. How I longed for a hug from mom or a sister to share secrets with. In the bigger picture most things that families fight about are small and insignificant. Through my childhood, and even into adulthood, things have hurt me. My initial reaction was always to retreat into myself and hold grudges. Forgiving was not easy for me. I watched my husband and children head off to family events because I was unwilling to forgive and let bygones be bygones. The one left sitting alone was me. I wanted to prove my point and convince others that I was right and they were wrong.
Sometimes it really becomes more important to be happy than to be“right” and we have the power to choose. This was a difficult lesson for me. Now, when I face potentially volatile situations, I ask myself one question. Will it matter in a week? A month? A year? More often than not, I decide it is simply not worth it. Now, of course, other people also have free will and some situations are just bad. In those situations all we can do is separate ourselves from those people. Most cases, however, it really is in YOUR best interest to “be the bigger person”. In the end holding grudges only makes you and your immediate circle of loved ones pay the price.
When you face difficult situations, remember you have the power to stay above it. Choose happiness!
Those who know me often say that I am a worrier. In my younger days I spent too much time worrying about how I looked, what I said, who I offended and what others thought of me. Okay, I still struggle with this. I am a people-pleaser but hey, no one is perfect, right? I believe a very well known song from a Disney movie said it best…”LET IT GO!” In the end it really doesn’t matter.
There are those around us who will always find ways to criticize and put you down. Yes, what your mother told you is true! These hurtful, judgmental people are most likely jealous or intimidated by you. Their criticism is more about them than you. If your Thanksgiving Turkey was “too dry” or your house was not clean enough, it simply does not matter. When you find yourself in hard times whether it be illness, financial stress or a variety of other difficult circumstances, those critical individuals will not be the ones standing by your side.
Keep those that truly matter close to your heart. Those that love you and are concerned for your well-being will offer constructive criticism. They will give you ways to become a better person. They will not cause you to question your personal worth. When you leave this earth people will not recall what your kitchen floor looked like or how your good your culinary skills were. In the end it will be what kind of person you were and how you loved. Don’t take it to heart…see it for the reality it is. If you did fall short accept that and do better.
Don’t question yourself because of what others think. Stay strong and let it go!
In the End:
During the the holiday hype it is very important to take care of yourself. Finding the gift of harmony, balance and tranquility is what matters most. When we find that balance, we will not be impacted by negative people and upsetting events. Take that nap, play in the snow, get a massage, meditate, build a snowman and drink hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream. Most importantly sing all the holiday songs you love at the top of your lungs in your car. Especially at traffic lights; you will make someone’s day, I guarantee it!
Be grateful, choose happiness, let it go, and take care of you!!