How to Stress Less during Christmas with the Family

girls, flowers

Just last week, I had an argument with my sister over the phone about some Christmas plans we were organising. As arguments go, it was a pretty mild one and it was over quickly – within a couple of hours, we were chatting like nothing had happened. But directly after our argument, I got off the phone still fuming and sought out a workmate of mine to have a quick bitch session and let some steam off. “Oh, yeah, Christmas!” he said. “It’s always supposed to be such a happy time but really it’s totally stressful. Don’t worry about it, families always fight during Christmas.”

“Mine always do,” I laughed. “I can’t remember a family Christmas where someone hasn’t thrown a tantrum or had an argument or something. We have our good times during Christmas but there’s always the inevitable argument.”

“It’s to be expected,” he said. “You can’t just throw a bunch of relatives you haven’t seen for ages together and not expect there to be some tension.”

I went back to work, but I was still simmering. But then I got to thinking about arguments and families and Christmas time. And though I was still pretty mad at my sister, I made a decision to just. calm. down. And not get mad. And not immediately start thinking about all the other little things she does that pisses me off. And to remember instead all the amazing things she’s always done for me and all the support she’s given me, and to remember that whatever we fought about is just a little thing and not worth getting stroppy over.

Perhaps there’s something to be said about positivity and karma and the universe returning whatever you send out to it. Because a couple of hours later, my sister sent me a text saying she had received the joint birthday present I had sent her and her husband (their birthdays are on Boxing Day and Christmas Eve!) and how much she loved it and soon we were talking and discussing movies as if we’d never argued.

During Christmas (and any other kind of occasion that necessitates a family gathering), it’s natural to get on each other’s nerves a little and to rub each other off the wrong way. It’s natural to find ourselves smarting when our parents and other relations start spouting questions/comments like , “When are you going to get a real job?”, “Are you ever going to get married/find a boyfriend?” or “Wow, you’ve put on weight!”

But perhaps the thing to remember is while we can’t change what our families are like (or change our families, for that matter!), we can change our attitudes toward them.

Now I know that’s never an easy thing. They’re our family, of course, and it’s only natural that what they say and think about us matters more to us than others do.

But perhaps now, especially at Christmas time, it’s time to stop stressing out about the little things that don’t really matter and just concentrate on spending quality time instead. To shrug off the little barbs and to smile and laugh and take an interest in our relations, even though we’re not feeling at our most cheerful and would rather hide under the covers with a box of chocolates and a good book. To put a good face on things, even if Aunt Marge and Uncle Pete have a tendency of making snappy little comments that can cut us a little deeper than we’d like.  To shrug off the petty little things and remember just what we’ve always loved about them and their good qualities, not their bad ones.

So instead of worrying about whether the Christmas tree looks a little wonky or if Aunt Sue is secretly judging us over the state of our bathroom or getting mad because everyone’s being a flake and not showing up on time as they said they would and now the ham is going to get super dry, instead step back and take a deep breath. Relax, sip a glass of champagne, channel your positive vibes and have a laugh. And know that the universe will send this positivity straight back to you and your loved ones this Christmas.


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