Truly Being in the Holiday Season

I’ll be heading away on a wondrous extended family vacation in December over the holidays, and even before we get on that plane, I’m planning to design on my own, as well as with my husband, how we want to be together and in relationship with the others when we are there. Don’t get me wrong – I love my family and am counting down the days to being together, but I also anticipate a lot of together time, some of which will involve very tired and sometimes hungry people of all ages. There are personality dynamics to consider in addition to the fact that it can get frustrating when it takes a lot of time to move all of us from point A to point B. In the past in these situations, I’ve chosen to ‘be’ loving and open, light-hearted and fun, compassionate and understanding. Not surprisingly, these states of being are the real me when I’m at my best. And not surprisingly, I have enjoyed myself and my family more than I ever imagined.

December is upon us along with the gloriousness of the holiday season, and yes, the stress that comes along with it. The key to getting through it as unscathed as possible is taking the APD steps – Anticipate, Practice, Design:

  1. Anticipate: your relationships and interactions during this season. Think about all the interactions you’ll have and all the places you’ll have them: At home, at the mall, on vacation; with your children, with your parents, with your friends, with other family, and even with sales clerks in the stores in which you’ll be shopping. This may not cover it all, but if you get most of them, you will have no problem applying this technique to new or unanticipated scenarios.
  2. Practice: humility, understanding and forgiveness. Remember that there is not one single person who was put on this planet with the purpose of pissing you off. At the same time, there is not one single person who was put on this planet to please your every whim – the world doesn’t center around you. Let’s not forget that you are not the only one experiencing the pace and stress of the holiday season and all that it brings (good and bad). Why someone gets under your skin has to do with a clash of values (those things that are most important for you to be your best, like gratitude or acknowledgment or order or beauty – and someone is stepping on those values, likely because their top values are different than your top values). Once you get that the person in line at the grocery store who is talking on the phone incessantly is not doing that to piss you off, it’s far easier to forgive and move on. For more on this concept, read Dr. Fred Luskin’s Forgive for Good.
  3. Design: how you want to be. Think about each and every one of the relationships from #1 above, and design for each in advance how you want to be in your interactions with them. Remember: you get to choose your behavior and your reactions in any given situation. How you ‘be’ will dictate how you act. And in my experience, there is no doubt that if you anticipate and plan beforehand, you can be proactive, not reactive, in these situations.

I’ll let you know in January how the family vacation went down, but in the meantime, I’ll hold my preferred way of ‘being’ throughout the month of December. Happy holidays to all.

Now time to get packing!

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