All I want for Xmas Is…


by Bernadette Healy

Wish list for families at Christmas

Christmas is a time for connection and joy but it can also be a pretty tough time for some of us. Whether you are someone for whom Christmas is a bit of a non-event or someone for whom Christmas triggers strong emotion, it is a time for all of us to reflect about how we want to be in relation to others. Here are some tips that might be helpful:
• Allow each other to be just how they are – and let go of yearning for them to be how you (or others) would prefer them to be
• Let yourself define your own experience and throw out any feeling or sense of having a template which has been given to you by other family members
• Be aware that labels and expectations are handed out to most of us during our childhood but we can each decide as adults what we regard as important values to live by now and learn to resist the pressure to satisfy the outdated expectations others have of us
• Don’t punish others by excluding them for not interacting in the manner you prefer or regard as the way to be
• Try and foster the opportunity to discuss differences of opinion and make it a conversation in which feelings are shared and in which each individual takes responsibility for their own reactions and resists the temptation to blame others
• Reflect on any no-go family dynamic conversation zones and live to tell the tale
• Share a conversation without employing your inner critic to yourself
• Actively try and show tolerance by listening, by showing interest in others such as by asking questions about them, by not interrupting even when you are bored or have a great point to make and by reciprocation through volunteering something about yourself
• Treat in-laws and new partners and ex-partners and step-family members and anyone else equally
• Question and resist any pressure to choose a side
• Allow yourself to enjoy the company of whoever you choose to at your family functions without succumbing to the influence of others as to the status and merit of various individuals
• Avoid being a party to bullying
• Laugh together but not at the expense of another
• Be kind