Holiday Conflict Is a Reality
Posting near holidays presents a real dilemma. I want to post pictures of feasts and family celebrations, kids hunting eggs, unwrapping gifts, lighting the Menorah or Kinarah, decorating the Christmas tree, blowing out birthday candles and watching fireworks.
I also recognize that the holidays can be a stressful time for divorced families, families who have suffered a recent death and even adoptive families. Let’s face it, change is hard, and when you combine change with expectations, it seems insurmountable.
Replace Holiday Conflict With Holiday Fun
Your first step is to recognize that things are different. I am reminded of a poignant moment in the iconic television series, NCIS, when a disabled veteran tells Agent Gibbs:
“You know, the thing is, I was fighting myself, you know, trying to be some empty version of what I was before. But, uh, I think I need to try and find a way to be who I am now. Know what I mean?” — Aaron Davis
The conversation served a a wake-up call for Agent Gibbs who had been trying to be what he was before the loss of his wife and young daughter.
I give clients the same advice, although not as eloquently. Once you come to grips with the change in your life, you can begin to be who you are now. Live and appreciate your holidays as they come, creating new memories and new traditions. Or blend old traditions with new circumstances to create something wonderful. Easier said than done, but eminently doable.
Give Up Holiday Control for Less Holiday Conflict
Whenever possible, allow someone else to be in charge or to take control of schedules and other things. Surprisingly, people are far more willing to accommodate others or to put others first when it is a choice. Particularly after a divorce or child custody battle, when wounds are still fresh, allowing the other party to choose may very well set a tone for future peace. If you want to see how one family made this work, read this true story by Mary Hartin.
This works in families after the death of a loved one as well. You may think you are helping everyone by staying in charge, but other people may need to step up to the plate in order to help their healing process.
You also need to give up holiday control over perfection. Your house, your appearance, the gifts you choose, the food you serve . . . you are the one who expects them to be perfect. Your family is far less critical of you than you are.
Communication Resolves Most Holiday Conflict
Finally, effective and positive communication goes a long way toward eliminating holiday conflict — or any conflict for that matter. Think about what you say before you say it. If you can’t answer honestly and appropriately, ask for a few minutes. Speak in a positive, not accusatory, manner. Offer solutions that benefit everyone.
Think about the situation and decide what is actually worth arguing about. Especially try to be accommodating with one another whenever possible when scheduling during the holidays. If it is within your power to be flexible, then do so.