I can’t believe it’s already the Christmas Season again! People have trees and lights up, and the radio stations are playing Christmas songs. My initial gut reaction this year was one that a lot of people feel, which is to be stressed because now I have to buy gifts. I don’t mind giving gifts, but sometimes finding the time to shop is a challenge. When it is rushed it can end up being a joyless experience.
Yesterday it hit me though that I was looking at the Christmas Season all wrong. Christmas exists because it celebrates the birth of Jesus. For those who do not celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas, it is still a time to focus on love and joy. It is no longer causing me stress because I know I will spend time with people I love, enjoy a peppermint hot chocolate, attend church, and decorate the house.
When you experience anxiety/stress about something like the Holiday Season, you will find a lot more joy if you direct your energy toward the positive aspects. There are pros and cons to most things we do, but we can live more peacefully if we try and see the pros.
Getting your kids to do this can be really challenging! Some of them very naturally get excited about Christmas, and are a complete joy to be around for the month of December. However, some of you parents have teens who have a truly rotten attitude this time of year. They feel pretty convinced their social calendar is going to be hurt by so much time with family.
Remember that you have the final say. Your teenagers often believe the friends they have now matter more than anything. You know from experience though that family memories remain stronger when you look back as an adult. Your teens will be off to new adventures in a couple years, and they will be close with a whole new group of people. They will still stay connected with family though.
Work to help your family value traditions that bring your family closer together. Make it fun! If you have a teenager who loves to give, let them help you pick gifts for everyone. If you have a teen who likes to eat good food (that’s most of them), let them help you prep and bake this year. Do things together and be very pleasant. It’s not the time to pick on them, but to just enjoy their company.
I hope your Christmas is blessed this year. I pray you feel close with family, and are relaxed through the month of December.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT