Surviving the Holidays: A Treatise on Rockwell, Wine and Service

The tinsel is up and the tree is trimmed. And, as usual, I have done precisely none of my Christmas shopping. I’m not sure what happens exactly. Is it the rush of holiday parties and end of year business responsibilities? Or, is this just me shirking the equivalent of grownup homework? The world may never know. But, the net result seems to be that I am the biggest bah humbug out on the stroll today. The one and only thing I took pleasure in shopping for is a set of those funky reindeer antlers that attach to your car. And, wouldn’t you know I couldn’t find them? So, if you know where I can get them, drop me a line. Bastian tells me we would prefer the ones with lights.

Do the holidays bring out the best in you? Are you cheerfully blazing a trail through Pinterest making pretzel nativity scenes or quietly dreading the complex warfare that family visits can invite? Probably, we’re all doing a bit of both. And, I’m here to tell you that it’s alright. Yes, gentle reader, nobody is a warm, sweet cup of hot cocoa every minute of the season. Sometimes, you’re the fruitcake in the corner. Here’s a few tips to make it through the festivities, be they tame or tumultuous:

1) Everyone’s Families are Mixed Nuts: When I was a kid, my grandmother Helen had a set of plates with Norman Rockwell paintings on them that she pulled out for every Christmas. Washing them at the sink after the meals, I often pictured Rockewell himself living out each of the idyllic scenes he painted. Turns out that his own childhood was not particularly happy and he often felt bullied and alone. Sad, right? But, he created that warmth he longed for through his work and you can have a hand in painting a happier life too. You are entitled to feel complex emotions about your family gatherings and to set boundaries around how and when you’ll interact with folks who make your life difficult.

2) Sneak Off: One of the most standard pieces of advice I give couples around the holidays (and all the time, really) is that you and your partner should sneak away to a hotel by yourselves. If your house is anything like mine, there are children, dogs and laundry underfoot all the time. Honestly, if you have on two matching socks right now you’re ahead of me. Priceline was made for folks who could do with a cheap bottle of wine and some clean sheets for a few hours. You know you’d spend about the same amount at dinner eating that crappy blooming onion monstrosity anyway. You don’t have to stay all night to have a great time and the babysitter won’t know the difference. You deserve it, your partner deserves it and you can leave the hotel maid any wine you don’t finish.

3) Serve as a Family: One of the best gifts you can give your kiddos and yourself is to take a break from shopping for the latest electronic wizardry and help others. There are a million ways you can serve both in person and with your pocketbook. Sing carols to the elderly, bring cookies to your kid’s school, pick an angel off the angel tree and buy gifts or serve at your local homeless shelter. Remind yourself that you are not only an awesome person, but also one who is connected to his/her community via bonds of compassion and love.

Do you have some pre-holiday jitters you’d like to work out? Do you know where I can buy my automobile reindeer antlers? Why don’t you come on in so we can talk about it.

Your Partner in Healing,


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