Are you exhausted from the Christmas preparations? The atmosphere at home is tense rather than festive?

Anna Hady – a family & relationship coach – says why it’s important to pause, think about the needs of family members, and choose relationships as the goal of pre-Christmas preparations.

In daily life we must see 

that it is not happiness that makes us grateful

but gratefulness that makes us happy.

David Steindl-Rast OSB

Christmas will come anyway. Seriously! Christmas will come even if we don’t manage to clean something up, prepare all the specialties, or complete the entire list of tasks that we took on ourselves. Why do I start with this? Because we often come to this conclusion too late – when we are exhausted with the preparations, the budget has exceeded all expectations and the atmosphere at home is tense. Well, maybe you could spare yourself these struggles and start preparations for Christmas this year with the assumption that these days will come anyway, without your efforts. However, what depends on you is:

In what condition will Christmas find you?

This can help to take the burden off our shoulders, which more and more often prevents us from focusing on the essence of the holiday season and enjoying the special atmosphere during the days and weeks before Christmas. In the family dimension, this period may serve to strengthen relationships, and often repair them. Listening to what occupies the closest persons. Getting to know the fears, dreams and worries of children. By choosing relationships as the goal of pre-Christmas preparations, we give ourselves a chance for a beautiful gift that we will not get bored of and will not cease to enjoy.

Probably all family members hope that Christmas will be a wonderful time. Probably everyone imagines it differently – children count on having fun all day long and are waiting for gifts. Parents certainly dream of a moment of rest and peace.

The more we stick to our expectations and ideas about what a perfect Christmas day should look like, the greater the chance of conflicts and stress when faced with reality.

So instead of turning up the perfect image of Christmas dinner, let’s give ourselves time for a break and silence to truly experience the taste of Christmas in relation to our loved ones.

  • Sometimes it is enough to start with: How are you?
  • Ask about a book or movie or join an ordinary play spontaneously.
  • Go for a walk together.
  • Sometimes it is good to share something that occupies us, engages our emotions and makes us unable to talk or play at the end of the day.
  • Every activity, from cleaning through decorating a Christmas tree to preparing gingerbreads, can become an opportunity to say something more about yourself and to get to know and understand each other better.

Stop. Look. Go.

American monk and missionary David Steindl-Rast proposes a return to the principle that we teach our children when crossing the road. Let’s learn to put in our lives signs of STOP that will motivate us to pause not only in case of danger but also in everyday circumstances. By investing our attention in life here and now, we give ourselves a chance to appreciate what we have and to feel grateful. To look more closely at our relationships and the role we play in them. To change perspective from the expectations we place on our children, to the commitment and emotional availability that we offer them every day.

It can be difficult to see that not only may we be disappointed in our children’s behavior but that they also experience many shortcomings in their relationship with us. However, it is also liberating and can help reject the black-and-white perception of the situation and encouraging family understanding that will take into account the needs and feelings of all its members. The very moment when we understand how much depends on what kind of adults we are, and what kind of parents we are, allows us to move forward and create a new quality of the relationship.

Dynamic family life and the changing needs of its members provide a unique opportunity to grow together. The behaviour of children reflects what is happening in their environment, and parents have the opportunity to take responsibility for this relationship and supplement it with missing nutrition values.

Make yourself a gift

The upcoming Christmas, as well as the New Year’s resolutions time, is a great opportunity to take a closer look at your relationships and the needs of family members. By focusing on preparing ourselves and our loved ones for Christmas, and on putting our relationships in order, we can give ourselves the best gift that will pay off for many years.

Below you can see a table with 100 boxes to be crossed out – 1 for each year of life behind you. With each Christmas, there are more and more fields crossed. How much can you cross out already? There is no point in waiting for another opportunity – do some Christmas clean-up in your relationships this winter! Focusing on today teaches us to be humble and appreciate what we already have. And gratitude is the first step to happiness and a sense of meaning in your life. It is a gift that not only we can benefit from, but also those around us.

About the Author

Anna Hady is a relationship & personal growth coach. She supports the growth of her clients by increasing self-awareness both in private and professional relationships as well as in parenthood.

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