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How to Make Holiday Family Time Special

Do’s and Don’ts for handling holiday stress.

Don’t pin your happiness on expecting any day or occasion to be special the way you planned. The day the turkey caught on fire will always bring back a unique memory of the day!

Do create rituals or carry on meaningful ones, which anchor our lives in the rhythm of the years. Share memories of special times with your family and friends.

How to Make Special Family Memories

Often, families find great comfort in circling back to familiar celebrations and traditions.

For example, I know of one family that celebrated a decades-long Christmas Eve tradition. They prepared a dinner of bratwurst and knockwurst in honor of their German heritage.

But when the children grew up and married, the tradition ran into trouble. One man’s wife, so it happened, could not come to love German sausage her husband had enjoyed since childhood.

Adapting Family Traditions

How do you honor a beloved tradition, when people don’t see them the same way?

The answer will be different for each couple. But the steps to the solution that works for you are generally the same.

1) Name the problem respectfully. No one is at fault; it’s normal to have individual likes and dislikes. Each person is going to have his or her own way of seeing how they’d like things to be.

2) Share your experience with kindness for yourself and your partner. If you see your partner is attached to a beloved tradition, share what you see:” I realize this is meaningful to you and your family. But it’s hard for me.”

3) Make your compromises about your partnership. While you work out ideas that might suite you both, use this question as a rule of thumb: “What’s going to bring us joy?” Ask yourselves, “What fits for us now?

Is your partner a firm traditionalist? If you are the more flexible person on a certain issue, you might decide to meet your partner more than half way as a gift. This works as long as there is not a whiff of resentment on your part. You’re happy to go along because it’s important to someone you love.

Letting Go of What “Should Be”

The holidays are not the time for ultimatums, as in: “My way or the highway.” Be curious, be open to letting go of how you think things “should be.”

The upside of learning to adapt old customs or create new family traditions is the experience of deepening of your relationship. Relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman found that couples who intentionally share their reflections and personal stories with each other create their own “world of meaning”. They develop a special understanding of their unique partnership.

I wish for you many special moments with your loved ones, that grow through the years. I wish for you and your partner the experience of safe haven to explore your dreams and build a life rich with shared meaning.

This is Tip #11, When You Want to Make Family Time Special, From: 11 Holiday Stresses, and What to Do Instead.

You’re exploring: 11 Holiday Stresses – and What to Do Instead. Discover 11 ways to restore calm for 11 sources of holiday stress. Click here to get each tip in your inbox — with warm wishes for the holiday season.

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