It’s Not Just You, Sharing the Holidays Is Hard

December 4, 2023

by elise habel

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! ‘Tis the season to be filled with joy and gratitude - to create countless memories with those you cherish most. There’s just one small problem, there are a lot of people who want a piece of you for the holidays, and not a lot of you to go around. This can be especially shocking when you’re newly married or new parents. Many of us have years under our belts of long days traveling from home to home, party to party, and we're exhausted. You might be wondering where your “silent night” has been stolen away to. No matter where you’re at or what phase of life you're in, scheduling your holidays to share wonderful, glorious you amongst all of your friends and family can be incredibly taxing on your energy, leaving your Christmas spirit feeling a little deflated. Though there is no perfect formula to please everyone in your family every year, here are a few different things you can try to lighten your load and bring back the joy of the season.

Ask Questions

Oftentimes, it’s easy to put pressure on yourself that hasn’t even been officially expressed by others. You assume that because your mother wanted something a certain way last year, that is the same way she wants it to be this year, and the next, and the next...into eternity. Consider that while you are growing, the members of your family are also (hopefully) growing and changing. Just because something was asked for one way previously, doesn’t mean that that is the ongoing expectation. Honestly, it might be, but that’s why it’s important to ask and discuss. Maybe this year grandma would actually prefer a quiet visit as opposed to a full night of festivities - heck, maybe grandma will be in Mexico! Asking your extended family what they would like to do for the holidays rather than making an assumption assures that plans won’t intersect. This also helps you create a plan that can offer a piece of what everyone is hoping for.

Taking Turns

So, you’ve asked, and everyone from all parts of the equation want the same thing, now what? We all have heard that boundaries are important, but it can be so hard to determine who gets what they are hoping for when hurt feelings are on the line. A classic solution is taking turns – switching destinations from year to year. The complicated thing with that solution is that sometimes our hearts long for different things, or family that you haven’t seen for a long time is in town, or there are new family members to account for. However, the benefit of using an “every-other-year” pattern is that it takes the decision-making out of the equation. It’s easy to say yes or no because you stick to a rhythm that takes the stress out of Christmas.

Make The Most of The Whole Season

In a number of cultures, ChristmasTide is celebrated more so than Christmas Day and Christmas Eve (that’s where the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” comes from). Wouldn’t it be so nice to be able to spread out all of your holiday get-togethers over 12 whole days?! Though our work and school schedule tends to consume those last few days of the year, one way you can spend time with your family during the season is at other holiday events. Some favorites in the Billings area would include the Downtown Holiday Parade, held annually on the Friday after Thanksgiving,  Holiday Nights at ZooMontana, dazzling with its millions of holiday lights and festivities, and the various Christmas Strolls held in Billings and surrounding communities. (Check out a full rundown of local Holiday Happenings, here.) Spending evenings with festivities like these are a fantastic way to build memories and give yourself more time to spread out your energy so that you don’t feel so confined to the few short days that are allowed for the holidays.

Combine and Conquer

Bringing people together is at the core of the holiday season. If you find that hopping around town from house to house is getting exhausting and old, take one year to experiment with bringing the families together. Of course we all know the caveat of complicated relationships and clashing personalities, but take a shot at gathering everyone, or a handful of people for a season, and see what happens! If it doesn’t go as swimmingly as you had hoped, then you can just learn from it and move forward. But give your family the opportunity to be together, and you just may be onto creating an entirely new tradition. Less separation, more togetherness.

You Got This

You’re not alone. You may think that you are the absolute worst at planning the holidays. You feel that you can’t please anyone, and that the stress of the season is too overwhelming. Just remember that almost every family everywhere experiences the exact same crossroad every year. You are not alone, and you are doing the best you can. Don’t seek perfection, seek peace and joy; you will begin to rediscover the holiday season as it should be. 

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