During the Christmas holiday season, we often have high hopes for everything — from perfect gift-giving to smooth and happy family get-togethers. We may also feel as if we should be happy and social all the time.
In this post, I'd like to dispel some common myths about Christmastime and encourage you to embrace the season in ways that can ease unrealistic expectations.
Myth #1: Cheerful Family Get-togethers
Holidays should be a time of great closeness, togetherness, cheerfulness and giving, especially among family members.
Reality: Sometimes there are issues that separate and push us apart from others. You can't expect magic at holiday time. If you never got along with Uncle Vinnie, don't expect it on Christmas Day.
Myth #2: Lots of Relaxation
I'm going to have all this time off for the holidays, and it's going to be wonderful. I should feel rested, not pressured.
Reality: Time off also means a break in some very comfortable routines. Time off may also mean a loss of the usual support system and co-workers.
Myth #3: Perfect Gifts
I've got to buy the perfect gifts for my family and friends. I should have enough money to buy everyone just what they want, and I should know exactly what everyone wants and be the perfect gift-giver.
Reality: Shopping for the "perfect gift" can be a frustrating experience, especially if you have to fit that shopping into rushed periods of time in crowded department stores. A gift is simply meant to let someone know you care.
Myth #4: Happy, Happy, Happy!
Everyone is having such a wonderful time. Just look around and see all the decorations, listen to all the music, and look at all the happy people. I should feel happy and social and never sad or lonely.
Reality: Give yourself permission to have "up and down" feelings. Don't feel guilty if you're not happy all the time. You are not alone in this. You can be mad, sad and glad all at the same time, just like everyone else.
Myth #5: Best Christmas Ever
I have to make this the best Christmas ever for my family and friends. I have to give great gifts, cook wonderful treats and be upbeat all the time. I should be the perfect provider, social director, socializer, host, etc.
Reality: You do not have to take responsibility for the happiness of others at holiday time. If you feel you've taken on too much, sit down with family and friends and discuss how to share some of the responsibility.
Myth #6: Let's Resolve Conflicts
Holidays are the right time to iron out old conflicts and problems.
Reality: While talking about the past can be helpful, you can't expect everything to change just because it's Christmas. The holidays may not be a good time to bring up old wounds.
Myth #7: Holiday Spirit
Anyone who isn't in the Christmas spirit is a Scrooge. I should feel guilty if I'm not in the "holiday spirit" and about any negative or unhappy feelings I have.
Reality: No "season" can determine how you feel. Feelings are simply there and are real — not good or bad. Feelings are not facts.
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