Christmas Resident

The Cambridge Dictionary defines family as: ‘a group of people who are related to each other, such as a mother, a father and their children.’ I understand modern families aren’t always constructed like this. There is nothing there that says it’s the law that family must like or love each other. 

Ok, most people, including me want to a spend a ‘happy’ time with their people at Christmas, but all of them? Without exception, and all at the same time?

Before it even begins, ask yourself, what do we as a family want from Christmas? I mean all of you. Get an empathic, harmonious and considered consensus with the family members who really count. Make a relaxed plan with lots of space in said plan.

Most of us have regular pressures such as working long hours, bringing up a child, caring for aging parents, illness and paying the bills and just when you’re about to burst with stress, Christmas arrives, adding an intensity of festive sugar iced anxiety to our already frenzied lives. 

“During the Christmas holidays, stress takes on a different character than at other times of the year.* ”

You will hear over and over again that Christmas is a family time. In my opinion, families can work together and can have fun doing it, especially at Christmas.

If one person is doing everything; buying and wrapping presents, decorating the house, undertaking extra cleaning duties, prepping and cooking meals for the entire family, the enjoyment of the festive season for this person can wilt into a tense indigestible cold lump of Christmas pudding before you can say, ‘pass the brandy butter’. ‘Sharing at Christmas’ is a big consideration isn’t it?

Organise and encourage everyone, even guests and the smallest children to join in and help somehow, this will engender a warm, hospitable, belonging atmosphere.

There will possibly be one or two ‘sense of duty’ guests or visits. I find some relaxing mindfulness breathing exercises or guided mediation can ease the holistic disquiet that is being with relatives that you have nothing in common with or even kinsfolk you specifically don’t like. 

Arguments. They can happen and historic family misunderstandings can crop up, but if as a unit you decide to be exceptionally flexible, tolerant and forgiving this positive mindset might just ease tensions at this time of joy and festivity. 

“An overload of unwanted emotional stuff that all comes at once can mean that psychological unease can intensify at Christmas.”

Don’t be afraid to call ‘Time Out’. Be honest and ask yourself, as an individual, “Is this situation good for my wellbeing?” If you think its all too much then escape from the tension, make time for yourself, whether it is to have a snooze, walk the dog, go for a jog or walk or watch the latest animated feel-good movie on TV. Uncoil that spring. 

I’m guessing that most people think this time of year is for focusing upon feelings of love, happiness and fun. Possibly the most important aspects of the festive season are the chances to connect or reconnect with friends and family. Perhaps empathic consideration and kindness are the biggest gifts you can give each other. 

*American Psychology Association

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