Everywhere you turn this time of year, you’re being admonished to be grateful. So I’m trusting you got that message. You’re absolutely radiating gratitude. In fact, at Thanksgiving dinner, you were so grateful to have had the opportunity to buy the groceries, clean the house and cook the meal, you managed to avoid chucking the stuffing at annoying Uncle Al when he wondered why it was so dry.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As a motivational speaker who encourages people to speak their truth, I’m here to give you some tips on how you can get through the rest of the holidays with grace.
- Ask for support. Do your holiday family traditions involve the women cleaning the house, grocery shopping, prepping and cooking the holiday meal, then cleaning up afterward, while the other half show up to enjoy football and food? If so, it’s time to throw the penalty flag, then give the guys an opportunity to assist by asking specifically for what you need. “I’d appreciate it if you could set up the extra table and chairs before everyone arrives.” “It would be so helpful if you would vacuum and empty the dishwasher this morning.” “I’d like you to make the grocery run for the following ten items.” While you’re at it, make sure the kids have assignments too.
- Speak your truth –with love. Before the next holiday extravaganza, let your family know your true feelings. If you don’t want another big celebration or visiting relatives, speak up. “I know in years past we’ve always gathered here for the holidays, but I’m looking to shake things up this year so we won’t be hosting this time. I appreciate you being flexible as we try something new.” Prefer to go to a buffet or escape for a long weekend? Let them know your feelings. “If I had my druthers we would have a wonderful brunch and then go bowling or something that involves movement. I know that in year’s past you’ve wanted to watch football or play cards with your cousins. Is there a way we could compromise? If not, are you willing to help by…(see above).”
- It’s about connection, not perfection. Last Thursday, did you find yourself racing around the kitchen, sweat stains growing under your armpits as you mashed the potatoes, basted the turkey, and browned the rolls? If so, you likely missed out on spending time with your loved ones, which is ultimately what the holidays are about. I know what you’re thinking, because as a recovering control freak, I’ve been there: “Everything has to be done just so, and I’m the only one who can do it right.” Let it go. Delegate. Next time, ask your sister-in-law to bring the mashed potatoes, even though hers are a little lumpy. Have your kids set the table. It’s okay if the silverware isn’t perfectly placed, polished or even from the same set. Chinet goes straight into the garbage can. This leads right into my final tip.
- It’s the intention, not the outcome. Your intention is to bring people together to share conversation, food and love, not have a Martha Stewart moment. (Besides from what I’ve read, there’s even some friction in Martha’s family. Hard to imagine.) Often the closer you’re related to people, the less you relate, so in that case choose to be with your friends or family of choice.
If you embrace these principles and lose the expectations, you can’t help but have a better, rather than bitter, holiday season. And for that, we’re grateful.