Reality-check your expectations
Plan how you are going to handle the day well ahead, not at the last minute
Don’t spend more than you can afford
Plan your Christmas budget and tell others.
It’s late on Christmas Day, and in ‘our house’ perfectly behaved children are quietly playing with their presents.
Relaxing on the sofa are their parents, who had a lovely sleep-in and breakfast in bed before church. The whole family has fitted in beautifully and the day has been one of peace and harmony.
But in ‘the house across the street’ there’s a tribe of argumentative youngsters, looking rather green from the three helpings of Christmas pudding. Sprawled on armchairs are the adults, in varying degrees of indigestion and mood. Several have splitting headaches, others just look plain worn out.
Aunty Flo is not speaking to Cousin Harold, due to a longstanding family feud. John and Janet had a tiff on the way here about how long they were going to stay before heading across town to the other relatives that evening.
Yes, it’s the season to be merry and exude goodwill to all. ‘Our house’ is obviously the one of fantasy, while ‘the house across the street’ sounds like a television sit-com.
And between these two extremes falls a great number of Australian families.
Christmas promotes the idea that everyone gets on well together and there’s always good communication and loving relationships. If your family doesn’t fit this exact picture, it can be a difficult time.
The clue to handling Christmas successfully is to give your expectations a short, sharp reality check. If there have been difficulties in the family during the year, then those differences will still be around at Christmas time.
The Christmas spirit is all about goodwill, but difficult relationships within the family are brought into sharp relief when friends talk about their happy and harmonious families while you are struggling with keeping the peace.
One of the biggest problems with the Christmas season is the sheer volume of social activities.
Arriving at Christmas frazzled and worn out is not a good recipe for a happy day. The key lies in some basic planning well before the big day.
Choose which functions you will attend to help you get as far as Christmas Day with manageable stress levels.
Plan your Christmas Day—if you need to visit several family gatherings, you might need to set some boundaries about the length of time you will stay. Or you might decide to visit the family on Christmas Eve or another time.
Families in which parents have separated during the year often have a tough time. It’s hard for children who have to manage not having Mum and Dad and the grandparents together.
It’s important to negotiate ahead of time because children want to spend time with Mum, Dad, and grandparents. Forward planning and generosity of spirit is needed here, so we can all have a happy and blessed Christmas.