Happiness at the Christmas table: What you can do

THERE is often a lot of expectation around the ‘perfect’ Christmas. The meal, activities, decorations, gifts, dietary requirements and sometimes even the weather, may cause worry and lead to disagreements as frustration boils over.

Family Action says this can be challenging for those who have strained relationships with their wider family, struggle with anxiety or are experience time pressures or financial worries.

Here are some top tips, according to the website, to survive the family and be kind to yourself this festive season:

Understanding what you and your family want out of Christmas, and planning accordingly, can ensure you don’t repeat mistakes from the past, or end up in situations where you argue about good intentions that aren’t right for your situation.

Nobody wants to end up sitting around thinking ‘I didn’t want this’ so instead try to look ahead at what might cause problems, using past experiences to identify where the flash points might occur, rather than just letting events unfold.

You can then think about how you might manage those situations differently, or even how you might be able to prevent them from occurring at all.

Have the difficult conversations about gifts and contributions 

Sometimes family members may have more disposable income than you and this can cause tensions when they buy expensive gifts or luxury food items, which you can’t afford to reciprocate.

Many people love to spoil their extended families and if it doesn’t bother you then it can take some pressure off you and set your mind at rest that your children will get some of the more expensive gifts they desire, or you can all enjoy luxury food you wouldn’t have otherwise.

However, if this makes you feel uncomfortable, why not agree in advance a maximum gift value and share what everyone brings to family meals and events?

What can your family do for you? 

When you’re the person responsible for cooking Christmas dinner or trying to buy gifts for extended family and children, it can be overwhelming.

Grandparents, siblings and other family members often love to feel useful but don’t want to seem overbearing or pushy, and sometimes the older generation can feel redundant at Christmas.

In the case of our parents, they’ve been doing this job for a long time and have lots of skills they can use to help with the preparations and people often quite like to have a role to fill. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Christmas has a short shelf life 

Some of us are dealing with poverty, family trauma or families separated for a variety of reasons, making Christmas a difficult time.

In these situations, it may help to remember that this period will end and you can get on with life as normal.

As well as thinking about the whole Christmas season in this way, it can also be a useful strategy for dealing with particular moments of tension over the season.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to but if you do feel pressure to spend time in difficult family situations because of the time of year, you can always find a way to put a time limit on it in advance.  For example, it helps to try and visit other people’s houses, so you’re in control of when you leave if you feel you need to.

Source: Northglennews.co.za