What To Do If You Don’t Like Christmas
I’ve had way too many unhappy Decembers when my kids were small. It got to the point that I began to dread the holiday season. And then I got myself even more wound up because my friends LOVED Christmas and I felt even worse that I didn’t.
And I would tell everyone I met the same story:
‘I’ve had to host Christmas for my in-laws every year since I got married. His parents come to stay for the entire holiday period and his sister and her husband get to come and go. My kitchen is completely taken over by my MILs boxes of kitchen gadgets, knives and cookbooks and I’m in charge of food shopping from her list. The whole thing revolves around cooking, eating and clearing up and no-one ever wants to play games or do anything fun together. The men just eat and go off and watch what they want on TV or have a snooze. I have a baby (and then later another baby and a toddler) and I’m supposed to do this every year because nobody else has a house big enough. I never see my own family on Christmas because it’s only my mother and she doesn’t want to come over and be a part of the madness…’
This was the story I told to anyone who’d listen. If my hairdresser innocently asked, ‘What have you got planned for the holidays?”, I’d launch into it all.
I’d get SO jealous of friends who went to see his parents on Christmas Eve and her parents on Christmas day and had the rest of the time to themselves to relax and hang with their kids. I deeply missed my pre-marriage tradition of travelling to warm places, smugly sipping cocktails on the beach whilst escaping the holiday madness.
Because I now begrudged Christmas, I procrastinated on decorating the house and didn’t do any holiday baking with the kids. I detested the mad consumerism, crazy shopping crowds, searching to find the right presents and then having to wrap them all. I dreaded writing out Christmas cards and queueing at the post office. It got worse every year.
Then one year, as I was getting more into my personal growth, I’d read some books by Deepak Chopra and The Dalai Lama and started learning about how my thoughts create my reality. I had just started my Project Me (only for myself at that point) and I was becoming more proactive about my happiness.
I made a decision to not tell anyone my usual story that December. So when my hairdresser asked about my holiday plans I kept it short and positive. And when friends asked if I was bracing myself for the invasion of the in-laws, I’d simply tell them I was planning to make the best of it this year and focus on the good.
On Christmas Day I decided to be like the men in our family and I stayed out of the kitchen and let my MIL and SIL take over. By then my SIL had two little ones so I just took charge of all of the kids so they could cook in peace while I put batteries into new toys, read assembly instructions and stayed away from the kitchen madness that always stressed me out.
And I was nice and I smiled. And when my buttons did get pushed, I went to a quiet room and breathed through it instead of reacting.
That year, when my MIL was leaving after the holidays, she gave me the biggest, warmest hug EVER and said it was the best Christmas! After she left I had a little cry when I imagined what I must have been like ALL of those previous Christmas’s. I must have been such hard work! Begrudging, resentful and miserable. It really hit me that it was never them, it was ME. In fact it’s never the other person, it’s always how we choose to interpret and react. Over the years I’d built up this hugely exaggerated story around the holiday season.
And from then on I found my strength to kindly but firmly do things the way I wanted to do them. I set some boundaries. I gave myself permission to shut myself in my room to relax on my own without worrying I was being antisocial. I simplified things and let go of perfection. I stopped begrudging my in-laws for not playing games on Christmas and I instigated them myself. I looked for all that there is to feel grateful for. And there was a lot. I’m not going to lie. I still don’t LOVE Christmas and it’s not something I look forward to with joyful glee, but I stopped telling that whole damn story and I’m so much happier without it.
WHAT STORIES ARE YOU TELLING YOURSELF AND MAYBE OTHERS ABOUT HOW THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS FOR YOU? Could you re-tell the story with a more positive slant? How can you take responsibility for your own happiness and stop blaming others? Share in the comments below. I’ll be personally reading and replying to them all.
Every year I send out this My Dream December 2-page worksheet to my lovely newsletter subscribers and every year I get so many heart-felt thank you’s. This tool helps you to identify what really matters to you over the holiday season. It’s my free gift to you!
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