How to Deal with Family for the Holidays

By AM Northwest Staff

Dr. Al Bernstein came to the show to tell us how to handle out family members around those special holiday days.

How To Beat Holiday Stress:

Get over the Martha Stewart complex: Let's get this straight there's no such thing as Martha Stewart. She's a mythical creature who symbolizes the fact that someone else's  holiday will alwways be more stylish than yours. Comfort and joy is also good. Just realize that's not your responsibility to make this the greatest holiday season ever.

Don't Overplan: The best way to spoil a holiday is to try to pack too much fun into too little time. Holiday fun usually requires an enormous amount of prep and clean up time by someone who wants to enjoy everybody enjoying it all, but is usually too busy to spend time with anybody. (And often too crabby to spend time with.) Don't let this be you. Figure on everything taking three times as long as you think it should. And schedule accordingly. While we're on the subject, schedule time in which nothing is scheduled. Often the best part of the holiday season is just sitting around with people you care about.

Let Everybody Have a Part in Getting Things Ready: Let family members and coworkers organize things even if they can't do it as well as you would. Nobody ever does things as well as you do anyway. Why should the holiday season be any different?

Accept the Fact that Somebody will Always Mess Up: Nobody's perfect. Be charitable about the faults of relatives, friends and coworkers. Resentment can spoil the happiest holiday. Be charitable about your own faults too if you have any.

Take Care of Yourself: Don't forget to eat regular food and sleep regular hours.

Don't Be a Holiday Martyr: Ask for help if you need it. Don't expect people to read your mind. Saying no if you are overloaded is just as appropriate over the holidays as it is during the rest of the year. There may be holiday miracles, but I guarantee that your friends, family and coworkers finally realizing what you want and giving it to you without your asking won't be one of them.

Give People What You Can Afford: Remember it is the thought that counts. Make a budget and stick with it. Gifts are unwrapped and forgotten; debts last all year. What most people close to you really want is some of your time all to themselves. You don't even have to wrap that.

Accept Gifts Graciously: When people give you something, give them the pleasure of seeming surprise and enjoyment in your face no matter what you actually feel. If you are ambivalent for any reason, write a letter to Martha Stewart. Undoubtedly, she will know what to do.

If you drink, don't think you have to express everything that's on your mind.

Do something for people you don't know: The greatest holiday gift is realization that we're all on this together. Get it by giving of yourself.

Remember the spiritual part: Whatever your tradition, there is something in it to replenish your soul. Open your heart to it.

Don't let what's missing mess up what's there: All holiday's have wholes and places that have worn threadbare. They can still give you a warm glow if you wrap them around you.

Join in: The holidays are silly and chaotic, but it's chaos we all share. Nobody knows how to do it any better than you do. Nobody does it completely right.

Enjoy the holidays, that's what they're here for!

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