Monday, December 3, 2018

"Home for the Holidays"

"Home for the holidays"...for some just the thought is enough to make your stomach knot up like a pretzel and your head pound like someone dropped the Salvation Army kettle on it. Yes…a real Akla Seltzer moment. You ponder on the idea.... "there must be some way that I could fall asleep on Christmas Eve and wake up when the whole holiday thing is over". Unfortunately, there is no such luck for that one. So before you start trying to make up a story about being abducted and beamed up to outer space on the Mother Ship…let me share some useful tips that could help make going home for the holidays a little less stressful.

1.  Have a meeting to prioritize and plan activities for the week (put them on a calendar and give a copy to each head of household for every family that will be in attendance). Be sure to give everyone a voice…this includes the little people…they count too.

2. Designate and share responsibilities: who will do the major cooking, who will to do the kitchen cleanup, who will keep the shared living areas clean, etc. Write this out also giving the head of each household a copy.

3.  Do not expect anyone's personality to have changed since the last time you were together...just know they are who they are. Those you have issues with will most likely be the same. One of the easiest ways to set yourself up for disaster is to have false expectations.

4.  Accept and respect long standing family traditions. Remember one day, if you are so blessed with longevity, you will be the senior member of the family.

5.  Do not take the holiday gathering as an opportunity to address unresolved family disputes. If it was not resolved in the 365 days since your last gathering, there is no reason to believe it will get settled during the week.

6.  Set precise house rules for the children. Make them precise and clear and posted so they can be seen. All adults should be authorized to enforce set rules. No bay-bay kids allowed.

7.  Make it clear adults are expected to clean areas one usually cleans behind themselves (i.e. no one should yank back the shower curtain to find the previous user soap scum). Remember the maid has week off so she could go home for the holiday too.

8.  Pets…so you plan to bring along your favorite furry friend…”news flash” – everyone, contrary to popular belief, is not a pet lover and there may be relatives with severe pet allergies. Definitely discuss this before you show up at the door with Fife, Fido and/or Fluffy. If it is agreed pets are welcomed, there must be clear boundaries; determine where they will be allowed to roam during the week. Talk about ruining Christmas dinner - Cujo finds his way to the kitchen to grab a little sample of the glazed ham but it was so good that he got carried away…not even the bone remained - “has anyone seen the glazed ham”?

9.  Set and post the noise level rules for early morning and late night hours in a common area. There are bound to be early morning roosters and the late night insomniacs.

10.  Solitude…yes…although we have gathered for bonding time…people still need “ME” time during the week. It is OK to take time alone to do your routine meditation, reflection, exercise, etc. Do not feel obligated to miss this important part of you taking care of you. For some this might be the only way of maintaining sanity for the week…a legitimate way to escape!

Although this doesn’t beat being able to play Rip Van Wrinkle for the week or getting your family to
believe the alien abduction kidnapping snapshot, I hope these few suggestions help make your trip home for the holidays an experience you will look forward to…OK…that might be stretching it a bit much…but at least one where you can build good memories.

I have shared a few helpful tips with you…now I have a question for you– What do you do with that re-gifted fruitcake?