As the holidays roll around, I often talk with people and hear about how stressed they are trying to please their family members at this time. It makes me reflect on family dynamics and why people act the way they do, or get so bent out of shape at this time of year. I just heard a lady (while at the hair salon) speaking about how she works SO hard, is super busy, then has to cook a huge meal while off work…yadda, yadda, yadda, BUT this year she was choosing to stay home, just her and hubby, and she thought it sounded glorious. Why is the holiday season SO stressful for us…women, especially?

I believe it’s because some family members have preconceived expectations about how things should go. I hear friends say that their family members don’t understand their hectic life or work schedule, that they always are the one to cook and never get help, they mention they don’t get much time with one side of the family over another, or they ate 3 huge meals in one day just to please everyone. Geeze!

Why can’t people talk with each other and just be honest explaining their reality like grown ups should be able to?

As I grow older, I reflect on these situations and have created a series of posters entitled, “The older I get…” All are observations I’ve had while talking to people or while encountering certain social situations.

So, my own kids are now married. And I refuse to be that parent that pressures them (silent or not) into feeling they have to meet my needs or be somewhere that causes them undue stress. I don’t want to apply that kind of pressure to anyone! I haven’t liked it myself, in the past, and I don’t want it for them. No holiday, or get together is worth that feeling of guilt, or the added stress of trying to please everyone. You can end up resenting family holidays. I mean, even if it doesn’t seem fair at times, I refuse to put that pressure on my family because I’ve seen what that kind of hurt can do to relationships. It causes problems or misunderstanding for years! And I don’t want that! I want my family to visit me because they love me and want to be around me. I don’t want anyone feeling stressed over trying to make an engagement because they fear my disapproval. That’s not love, nor dying to one’s rights, nor is it even enjoyable when they do show up because it’s begrudgingly. Am I right?

I have seen so many family splits over such stupid nonsense.

I know of occasions when my own mother felt she didn’t have an adequate home (not completed due to constant remodeling nor enough beds for everyone), and she would ask if I could house family coming in from out of state. That really never bothered me because I liked hosting them and just being together all in one place was fun to me, and it brought joy to my parents. However, I always felt bad mom worried about many a holiday season. She wanted things to be just perfect, nice and cozy, creating good memories for grandkids she wasn’t able to visit with all that often, and I understood that. But, to be able to just do what you can, and be okay with that, and everyone giving grace to each other and just being thankful to be together…that would be more enjoyable. That’s what truly mattered, still does.

So, you can’t make it one year, or you’re cramped and everyone sleeps on the floor, or you’re not a good cook, so you get takeout, or you can only buy a few gifts…no biggie. It’s really not important and it’s sad people don’t realize that sooner. We really need to let go of OUR wants, OUR expectations, OUR needs, and try to put ourselves in the OTHER person’s shoes.

Not everyone has the same upbringing, not everyone celebrated Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas the way you did. Not everyone understands your traditions, norms, or your family’s customs. And guess what? That’s perfectly fine. We all are unique. We were all raised differently. And that’s okay, too! There is no perfect way to do things. Why do we think everyone should be like us, do like us, sound like us, think like us, celebrate like us or just conform to our ways? The way “we’ve always done it!!”

Life is a mix. A mix of people…ideas, wants, and needs. We all need to just chill and learn to enjoy one another because time is shorter than we even realize, even at this moment.

I’ve seen many a family go through extreme crisis, and I bet they would tell you that just being with their special loved one, doing nothing extraordinary, or having any great plans would be just fine. Letting go of any differences. In fact, I would bet they would be happy to just let go of everything and just be.

Be present.

Because, being there in the moment with their loved one, would be gift enough. ❤️

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