Enjoy Christmas with “The Family”

The Christmas season brings with it, shopping, decorating, baking, Christmas songs and the classic Christmas movies.  Also this time of year brings with it family get-togethers, which for most of us can bring a certain amount of stress and mixed emotions.  This time of year can be particularly challenging if there has been a death in the family this year(or even if the loss happened several years ago, this time of year can cause grief to resurface), trying to navigate grieving with the Christmas season can be met with a lot of different opinions from family members.  It is important to remember that grief is an individual journey, and that above all it is important to extend grace and love to family members that are hurting and missing their loved one this year.
There can be some other challenges we may face as we get together with family, we are knitted together as family, but often times we don’t see each other very often, have grown apart, or have strikingly different views on a variety of topics.  Here are a couple things to keep in mind:
1.  Keep your expectations for communication and relationship with your relatives realistic.  Sometimes we find ourselves in “fantasyland” about how we think a family get together should go, but keeping our expectations realistic can be a huge help to us emotionally.  If we have an uncle who only wants to talk football, and we want to have some deep conversation with him, it probably won’t happen.  If we go into the party knowing it will be football talk from our dear uncle, we will be less likely to be annoyed or upset.

2.  Choose not to be offended.  There are plenty of opportunities in a family get together to get offended by what someone said, what they didn’t say, what they did, but CHOOSE to not be offended.  It’s a choice you make before you go into the party, “I choose to walk in love and to not be offended by anyone”.  It is amazing when we make this conscious choice, how potential offenses can just “not stick” to us.

3.  Ease up on pressure for a “perfect” holiday.  In the days of social media and picture perfect Pinterest food spreads and decorations, we can put undue pressure on ourselves and others.  The Martha and Mary story comes to mind, in the bustle of having Jesus for dinner, Martha lost sight of the main thing, time with Jesus.  In the same way, in the bustle of the holidays, people are near and dear to the Lord’s heart, so spend time with them and ease up on “perfection” it doesn’t exist anyway.

4.  Focus on giving rather than receiving.  We can tend to focus on sharing with family what we have been doing, accomplishing, what our kids are doing, and our story.  How about this year, focus on giving your time, energy, your genuine interest in them, your listening ear, and see the rewards multiplied back to you.

5.  Spend time with the Lord.  Make sure this year that you do spend time in amazement of the real Christmas story, Jesus stepped out of heaven to come to earth to rescue us from ourselves.  He loves you, He loves your personality, He loves your family, He loves time with you!

Respectfully submitted,
Pam Stinchcomb, LMSW

Desert Streams Christian Counseling