Could you imagine throwing a holiday dinner party and not preparing for it? I'll give you a scenario. It's Dec. 24. There's a knock on the door. Your family arrives all dressed up for a party and you are lying on the sofa watching Scandal in your sweats. You offer them a half bottle of wine you opened days earlier that is starting to go south and tell them they can help themselves to leftovers in the fridge. Would you ever do that? Of course not!
Well guess what? Most of us arrive at holiday events so emotionally unprepared we might as well be un-showered and in our pajamas. I am referring to people not mentally designing how they want the holiday to go and believing they have NO control over what happens. That's not true!
I'm going to give you a few tips on how to prepare for the holidays with your family and make it is as great and connected as it can be no matter what your situation.
HOLIDAY SURVIVAL GUIDE
1) Design your holiday!
Have a vision of your holiday. Sit down with a notebook and imagine how you want your holiday to unfold. If you know Aunt Beth is a horrible cook then you could imagine bringing a dish that everyone loves. If there are topics that could potentially poison the well at dinner, then declare a ban on particular subject matters. For example, your sister Susie gets sad every holiday because your mom asks her where are her grandchildren when Susie is 44 years old and still single. Tell your mom no bringing up grandchildren around Susie. If mixing politics and wine creates loud heated debates in your family, then you imagine having a sweet conversation with the two main political instigators in your family and ask them for a moratorium on politics for the holiday season. See if that makes the holiday more fun for everyone.
2) Expect the expected and don't get annoyed when it happens!
Sometimes the holidays can feel like deja vu. For example, it's the last night of Hanukkah. Your dad is on his third drink and starts to tell the same story he's told the past several Hanukkahs about how he met Al Pacino at a casino in Reno, but this time he's exaggerating about how they are now Facebook friends. And while your dad is telling his story, you look over at your mother who is wolfing down her second slice of pumpkin pie and explaining how good she is doing on her diet. She hasn't lost a pound in over 10 years and is 25 pounds over her goal weight.
The scene makes you want to crawl under the table. Your reaction is just as predictable and harsh to your own life. You switch to tequila, contemplate turning on the TV to drown out your parents, as your inner dialogue goes on a verbal tirade, "No wonder I don't believe in love for me!"
Instead of going down the same rabbit hole you do every year, stop and consider how to make the same scene fun? Don't get annoyed. Have a sense of humor. Laugh. This requires a lot of perspective and compassion but the good news is, when you lighten up about the negative tendencies of your family you can lighten up about yours too. That gives you a way better chance of intervening in both.
Grow up your emotional intelligence. The difference between, "So what? They are cute," and "How could they be this screwed up?" is where your personal CHOICE lives. Choose to see the good and let some things slide.
3) Beware of any personal pity parties you feel you are entitled to throw for yourself this year.
Self-judgment is very popular over the holidays, especially as we compare our lives to where they were last holiday season or if we believe we aren't where we should be. If you're disappointed in some area of your life, trust me, you're not alone. Everyone is disappointed about something from this past year. The good news is, even though the end of the year seems final, it's not. Time is a continuum and today is just as good a day as any to start a new better habit and/or to stop berating yourself (it does no good any way).
In the meantime, when you're with the family, here's a trick: Stop focusing on yourself and pay attention to what's going on with the people around you. My husband sometimes has to remind me to shift my focus this way. He'll say, "It's not about you, Lauren." Maybe someone you're close to could remind you if you forget?
4) Take on the holiday spirit and kill the Scrooge in you!
It's easy to dazzle people during the holiday season and I'm not talking about buying expensive gifts for everyone. I'm referring to doing something special that would make people happy. And just so you know, this coaching is for me too!
Choose to have happy holidays because you say so. Then make them great. Figure out what festive thing you could do that would surprise people. Like, bake a holiday dish for your new neighbors you haven't met yet. Or volunteer to help your husband do something that would totally surprise him like clean out the garage or go to a horror movie he is dying to see but you would rather pass on. There are so many potential options to be festive and fun this holiday season. You still have time. Start today!
I hope I've reminded you that just because it's the holidays it doesn't mean you get a break from designing your life! Right now is one of the more precious times of the year to create what you want and get a great return on your investment.
Believe that this is the best life ever and rock your holiday season!
If you are unhappy with how your life unfolded this past year or just eager to get jazzed about 2015, it's time to redefine what you are creating. As a holiday gift to the community, I am giving a free teleseminar titled How to Create Your Year on January 27, 2015 at 3pm ET. If you are interested, CLICK HERE to register.