There are so many expectations for this season to live up to! Many are quite unrealistic and therefore people will be upset and disappointed on some level or another.
In many households the conversations about inviting relatives, especially senior ones, go something like this:
“Should we invite Granny or Auntie Flo (or..fill in your own family here) to Christmas again this year?” This can be followed by a smile or a sigh!
Immediately, the thoughts, which are unvoiced often
, then go like this – She always grumbles and I can never make it good enough; she gets in the way; falls asleep; she wants to talk about the Dark Ages and past only!; it means I have to move all the beds about so she can stay; But what if it’s her last Christmas (– she hasn’t been well?); It will be nice for a few hours (only); maybe we could put them up in a hotel?; The kids don’t really know them – is it fair?; I think it must be our turn this year – they were with the “others” for the last 2 years.
Can you hear what the over-riding presumption is: We are supposed to have all the family together at Christmas, aren’t we?…
There are many other conversations of this type which happen too…
So, what to DO about Christmas?!
In amongst the wishing to see people because you love them, and they are family, and there is a sense of duty, and not wanting to disrupt your own routine, and wanting to have a break, and some rest for yourself, and the guilty feelings if you don’t invite over the senior family members and….
“What to do about Christmas” keeps returning! There are so many reasons and conditions which “need” to be satisfied – is it hardly surprising that this is difficult to achieve!
There is pressure because at some point someone needs to make the ultimate decision. The physical actions based on the decision need to be put in place. For example, travel plans need to be finalised, appropriate accommodation organised and things arranged. Sufficient food etc. bought and stored etc. (Isn’t Christmas an amazing time of upheaval for many?!). The emotional and mental shifts can take place too and the anticipation of the event can begin. 😉
So assuming that you have got round all of the pros and cons, for ALL the family and the ruffled feelings have been settled down. The younger children are willing to adapt, their parents can create the game plan. The seniors can work out travel plans. Everyone is united about who will be where and when, eventually…
It all comes down to – Managing expectations at Christmas.
For most families there is the expectation or at least the hope that Christmas will be magical, all or at least most of the time.
Different generations also have very different thoughts on the subject!
- The younger kids want lots of presents and tree lights and wrapping paper!
- Older ones often want to be outside with their mates comparing the latest gadgets that they have been given.
- The adults want some peace and a chance to stop – but get torn between managing over-excited children and dealing with grandparents etc.
- The senior members who want a nice meal, to see the grandchildren’s faces as they open their presents and some peace and quiet – and maybe more of a tipple than they would usually have!
Do you know what the biggest hang up people have though?
Everyone has been brought up to believe that you HAVE to be with family at Christmas!
Even if you have done something different – this is such an ingrained belief that if things don’t happen this way (all day or for the holiday period) that you, and they, have failed! It is a “family event” after all… That is what we have been taught. It goes right to our core.
Christmas for most people means:
- Being related
- Laughter and happiness
- Being with those who you care for
- Being looked after and loved
- Being part of a group
- A big celebration meal
Side issues which are nonetheless important are:
- Watching TV
- Sharing experiences e.g. a walk
- The pleasure of giving and receiving
- Getting to know aspects of someone’s life or the family history much better
- It may be the seniors last Christmas – so we should make it a good one
- The food and drink!
Therefore it is especially important to get really clear on what everyone’s expectations may be.
Maybe have THIS conversation NOW – weeks in advance of the event.
Tops Guidelines for a happy Christmas for all.
Action 1: Get people to write down the top 5 things that they really want, and also what they really don’t want at Christmas.
Action 2: Be willing to negotiate and adapt (possibly everyone’s) plans and expectations so that there are a few cohesive parts to work on and succeed with.
Action 3: For those whose expectations cannot be met on the day, create other opportunities when they can take place. E.g. arrange another outing or meal date or activity.
Humans get hung up about and confused between the difference between their long held beliefs and the free choice that they can have.
It is this which causes many of the Christmas upsets!
“The idea that it should be a certain way. It should work out like XYZ or its not perfect. It’s just not Christmas if all of these conditions are not met.”
These thoughts and beliefs trap us. Until you see that at some point (even if only by family tradition and the passage of time) we MADE THEM ALL UP – there is no freedom to choose something different.
To make the biggest difference – getting clear on your expectations and marrying them up with others to create a Christmas plan is vital to a peaceful, joyous and loving Christmas.
Some families are brilliant at this, others just need more practice!
Start today by getting clear for yourself what YOU want this year. Then see how it may be able to be achieved.
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© Gayle Palmer 2016 All Rights Reserved.
Gayle Palmer is the creator of Great Guidelines for Later Life and the Freedom at the End of Life Course (FEOL). This Course aims to help the senior and their family and friends to get order, direction and guidance as they enter into the later stages of their life and create their passing and what happens afterwards as THEY want it to be.
These are often the most challenging conversations to have within a family. Consider using Christmas and the opportunity of people being together to get some of this sorted. The course methodically helps to provide guidance, and hence answers to the life and death questions that people find hard to come to terms with and voice, especially within a family. To find out more about Freedom at the End of Life please go to: http://greatguidelinesforlaterlife.com/feol-course-info/
Alternatively to download the free starter kit please go here: www.greatguidelinesstarterkit.com
© Great Guidelines for Later Life 2017. All Rights Reserved.
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Gayle Palmer, the creator of Great Guidelines for Later Life - The world’s most thorough, comprehensive and supportive, one-stop resource for all seniors and their families who are ready to get their lives in order before they die AND help them to live out their days having a life they love, clear in the knowledge that they have done everything they need to. She has developed various courses, programmes and workshops for seniors and their families to work through, leaving no stone un-turned.
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