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 Okay, it's that festive time of year again:  THE DREADED  BREADED HOLIDAYS.  

          

Remember when the holidays were exhausting and hard when you weren't in a second marriage?

          

It's time to hold on to your hats, change your expectations and try to imagine this...ENJOY YOURSELF during the holidays.

          

 Here's my 4 tried and true tips to actually thriving during the holidays:

        

 TIP #1:  CHECK YOUR EXPECTATIONS

          

 Remember that EXPECTATIONS = PREMEDITATED RESENTMENTS.  I've worked with many couples in therapy who battle over their holiday traditions as if Satan himself has landed on their doorsteps.  

          

 In the name of "good will and cheer", these couples denigrate, tear apart, and mock one another's holiday traditions ad nauseam.  It's enough to make me want to eat an entire fruitcake rather than listen to the smallness and meanness couples can foist on one another.

          

And, as life often loves to do, I have to hold the mirror up to my own face and look at myself to see if I do the same to my husband.  The first several years of our marriage, I expected that MY traditions would take precedent over his.  After all, I had 4 children and he only had one.  Mine were older and therefore more attached to their traditions.  

        

What I wasn't counting on was the logic of my husband and he wasn't buying it.  Not only did I need to check my expectations, I needed to let them go which leads to Tip #2...

        

 TIP #2:  TWEAK OLD TRADITIONS

        

Be open and flexible (remember, you're in a second or more marriage—being open and flexible is mandatory). Re-look your holiday traditions and tweak them enough to accommodate all the members of your lumpy family.  Get creative.

        

TIP #3:  MAKE NEW TRADITIONS

        

This is a great way to subtly re-enforce the structure of your newly combined system, even if it's only for one day.  Get everyone's input on what this new tradition might be, and above all, make it fun.

        

TIP #4:  DON'T FORCE COMBINED FAMILY TRADITIONS ALL AT ONCE

        

Nice and easy is the ticket here. Strong-arming any family member, especially teenagers, is sure to meet resistance.

        

A new family tradition my husband and I instituted was, instead of serving the traditional Christmas dinner (you know...the usual turkey or prime rib), we lined the dining table with newspapers.  We steamed crab legs and artichokes and served heaping bowls of melted butter, french bread and warm damp cloths.

        

Utensils were not allowed!  We let everyone have at it—no worries about  table manners and etiquette.  Also on the table were bubble makers and Silly Putty.  Everyone had a blast...from my husband's 10 year old to my teenagers and even us "adults".

        

Finally, when considering the holidays and family traditions, just ask yourselves:  What would Jesus do?  Or Buddha or Abraham or the Tooth Fairy or the Man in the Moon.

        

Keep your joy and especially your sense of humor.



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