Is Christmas the most joyful or most stressful time of the year for you? There seems to be an underlying pressure to please others and an expectation to be joyful at the same time. The reality is, you cannot please everyone; and you are the only one who has the power to allow yourself to actually enjoy this season. What is most important to you this time of year? Do you want to visit Santa, send out Christmas cards or attend a holiday party? Maybe you want to order takeout and not cook, or put up a Christmas tree but not Christmas lights. Prioritizing what is most important will help you say, “Yes” to what you genuinely want to do!
Is it difficult for you to say “No” for fear of disappointment? There is a difference between false guilt and real guilt. Real guilt is experienced when a sin has been committed in which one can then take responsibility and reconcile the mistake. False guilt is when you do not live up to your own or someone else’s expectations—no sin was committed. It is sometimes difficult to determine false guilt because it often feels very real. Do you know what your motivation is for saying yes or no? Is it because it is expected? Is it out of fear of making someone angry? Is it out of guilt? How many times have you done something you did not really want to do and were unhappy the whole time you were there? Saying “Yes” to things you genuinely would like to do will allow you to truly enjoy this season more.
Now, let’s flip it. How do you respond to someone telling you “No”? Do you beg for someone to change their mind or whine until they do what you want them to do? It is OK to feel disappointed, but to make someone feel guilty in hopes of getting your way is actually harmful to the relationship. This takes away the individual’s freedom to make a decision. Mutual respect, even when you disagree, is key to healthy relationships (especially during the high-stress holiday season).
Communicating directly and not making assumptions can also help manage holiday chaos. Being honest with how you will spend your time and money will help manage expectations. Try to share responsibility with others. If you are hosting, ask someone to bring an appetizer or dessert. If you typically buy all the presents, divide the names and get the whole family to help. Express what you need so loved ones do not have to guess.
Lastly, think about what Christmas is really about and what you truly want to enjoy most about this season. In all the busyness, take time for yourself to relax. Do not let others take away the joy of this holiday; don’t give them that much power. Be intentional with your time and allow yourself to enjoy at least one thing (if not more) this Christmas season.