Yes, most of us are thinking it and I just said it. I can even say it with a great deal of confidence because the number of people that have been sitting on my couch in the last week dreading holiday togetherness is astounding. As you’re reading this, some of you might be deeming me an Ebenezer Scrooge or even a good old fashioned party pooper but I can tell you that I’m not alone. Time after time, as the holidays near we can easily find ourselves overwhelmed with the amount of holiday cheer we feel obligated to dispense. Thanksgiving with your family of origin (multiplied by 2 if your parents are divorced), Thanksgiving with your in laws (again, multiply by 2 if they are also divorced), Friendsgiving, holiday work parties, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve traditions, Christmas celebrations (please multiply as needed), New Year’s Eve parties and because there’s never too many reasons to indulge this time of year there’s even a “Chocolate Covered Anything Day” in December (it’s the 16th in case you want to stock up ahead of time!). There’s definitely no shortage of things to celebrate in the upcoming weeks but I want invite you to reconsider how and why you celebrate.
One of my clients said it best when she coined her plethora of Thanksgiving obligations as “Forced Family Fun.” I can think of at least 10 people that told me that they had multiple gatherings to attend in the same day this Thanksgiving. I’ve asked several of them why they attend multiple dinners in one evening, knowing that at a minimum they will likely be uncomfortably full of holiday deliciousness and the vast majority of people responded by telling me that they were attending because they “didn’t have a choice.” They believed that they would insult someone, hurt feelings of a loved one or start unnecessary family drama if they chose to bow out of one of the dinners they were invited to attend. It’s definitely interesting because the last time I checked, an invitation is just that—a proposal to attend, not a mandated expectation but a lot of us feel this way about the holidays. So, we rush from house to house, making appearances, checking stops off of our lists so that at the end of the day we can rest easy that we met everyone’s expectations. Well…was it fun? If the answer is yes, then ROCK ON! Continue your holiday season in this fashion…if it works for you, awesome. On the other hand, if you felt emotionally/physically drained, resentful in the slightest, anxious about staying too long at one place or not long enough at another or if you can’t remember the conversation with your favorite Aunt because you were too busy trying to inhale the rest of your plate before heading off to your next stop, let’s rethink this entire process.
Why do you celebrate the holidays with friends and family?
- I like to visit with my loved ones.
- I like enjoying a meal that we all collaboratively created.
- I enjoy catching up with people that I haven’t seen in a while.
- I like doing things out of obligation because feeling guilty and/or resentful is fun.
If you chose options “A” “B” or “C” (or any combination of the first three) you are in excellent company because I think that we tend to spend the holidays with friends and family because we want to enjoy their company. Although I seriously doubt anyone chose option “D” it’s possible that you may still find yourself going down that road, so I ask that you consider this question: If you’re doing something that is motivated by guilt or obligation, how much can you really enjoy anything?
Today I want to invite you to spend the next month celebrating the holidays in a way that allows you to really enjoy yourself and your loved ones. If that means you only go to one party per day/week, that’s totally okay. Just because you choose to attend one gathering over the other doesn’t mean you value one more than the other. Flip a coin, draw straws, rotate traditions….whatever will prepare you to have a good time with friends and family is completely fine…because in the end, isn’t that the point of all of this?