Yet another holiday season is upon us.  And, sometimes, it can bring more chagrin than cheer depending on your personal situation.  So, let’s examine a few different challenging scenarios that might be happening in your life right now, and see if there’s a way to help turn the Ho Hum into Ho Ho again!

The three biggest culprits for sapping the holiday spirit are usually 1) family conflict, 2) financial woes, and 3) loneliness.   Let’s take these one at a time and perhaps find a workable solution to the issue at hand.

Family conflict.  Various problems can arise within the family structure and make celebrating more a chore than a pleasure.  For example, there might be a multi-household situation, as in the case of a divorce where there are kids involved.  Or, if the marriage is intact, the two sides of the family celebrating together might not be practical because of personal conflicts or geographic restraints.  These are touchy issues and require great care in attending to them.  When discussions are had concerning the details of how the holidays will be spent – and they will be had – it is extremely important that they remain discussions and not be allowed to spiral into arguments.  Often, the best solution is a “take turns” attitude, i.e., this is the year the kids go to mom’s for Thanksgiving and dad’s for Christmas and next year they switch.  The same thing works for married partner’s opposite family sides.  Be sure to allow communication time for the family member who is not present.  If the kids are at mom’s then there needs to be time set aside for them to talk, skype (or whatever communication is preferred) with dad, too.  And vice-versa.  Make a special time for presents to be opened with the absent family member other than on the holiday itself.  In this way, those who are not present at the celebration can at least get the opportunity to make a connection with those they’d like to be sharing the time with, and it will lessen the stress of not doing so.

Financial woes.  Unless you’re fortunate enough to be part of the upper 1% of the population, you’ve felt the financial crunch of recent years in some way.  Certain people have been affected more than others, but in the vast majority of households a more frugal approach to holiday spending has become the norm.  And that’s ok.  It may sound trite, but this really is a time when the true meaning of the holidays should be at the forefront.  Being around those we care about, having food on the table and a roof over our heads is nothing to sneeze at.  And if there’s some money left over for gifts, buying a fewer amount of them or getting less expensive items that we know will still be appreciated is ok, too.  And what if Santa’s broke?  A visit to the local craft store might be in order.  Handmade gifts are often the ones most treasured.  Even common household items can be used.  It’s amazing what you can do with twigs, a sock, buttons, paint, paper, etc.  You get the idea – let your imagination soar!  I guarantee you, whatever is made with love and affection will be appreciated – and it may just turn out to be the best holiday you’ve ever had!

Loneliness.  We’ve all heard the stories about the suicide rates, the depression, and wishing that the season would all just be over already.  Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Some of us are fortunate enough to have our family, kids, mate and other loved ones around us.  Some are not as fortunate.  Whether you are alone because of distance from your loved ones, death in the family, personal conflict or whatever the reason, you are still alone.  And you have the ability to change that.  At the holiday time especially, people are willing to open their homes and hearts to those in need of a friend.  So, don’t be afraid to reach out to people and let them know about your situation.  Your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends, your temple or church…communicate with others and explain your desire to connect.  Even if the first person you ask says no for some reason, don’t stop there.  Someone will say yes.  And you will find yourself seated around the holiday table enjoying time with others who will welcome you and make you feel wanted.  It’s human nature to be social, especially at this time.  And it’s at this time of year that people’s giving nature tends to shine!  Take the step – you’ll be glad you did.

The bottom line is that at the heart of the solution to all of the above issues is communication.  Honest, straightforward, heartfelt talk without ego or defensiveness.  And the willingness to compromise if necessary to achieve a solution that is amenable to all (or at least most of those) involved.  Easier said than done at times, but well worth the effort.  So, open those lines of communication and keep the talk well below the boiling point (if it threatens to go there, stop and pick it up again another time). Listen to each other and work things out.  The holidays can be a joyful time if you’re willing to do what it takes to get them there.


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