The holidays are upon us. And with the holidays come many strong feelings, intensified by memories of Thanksgivings and Christmases past. Add into this mix your present relationships, and you may find yourself in some emotionally charged situations.
Remember, whatever feelings you are having about your closest relationships, get concentrated by the holidays. If you are feeling great love for your spouse, you may feel even more closeness during the holidays. If you are feeling ambivalence about your marriage before, don’t be surprised to feel increased uncertainty as you spend lots of time together.
On the other hand, many engagements are announced between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Acute feelings emerge when we share our first family get-togethers. Think of all the emotion-packed memories you have of Christmas. Holidays raise expectations.
Of course, the holidays can also deepen feelings of loneliness and abandonment. If loved ones have been lost in the past year or we have sad memories of past holidays, these can serve to sabotage our enjoyment of the present moment.
Here are a few ways to become more aware of your unconscious holiday expectations and enjoy the present moment:
- Before the holiday arrives, put some energy into improving communications within your family. Ask them what their expectations are of the upcoming time together.
- Spend time journaling about past holidays. What rituals carry the deepest emotional meaning for you? Can you work these into your holiday plans?
- Try not to bring up old, sore subjects at family get-togethers. Leave the past behind and accept your family and friends as they are.
- Pretend you are an outside observer with your family. Keep your sense of humor and let insensitive comments roll off your back. Don’t take anything personally.
- Plan an escape route. Just because you are home for a few days, doesn’t mean you have to spend every second together. Take a walk, go see a movie, meet with old friends in the area.
Try to let go of past disappointments and start from scratch this year. Bring yourself back to the present with the simple question: “What do I want to happen this year?” and do your best to create that reality.