I LOVE the holiday season and everything about it: the decorations, cookies, food, parties, holiday traditions, seeing friends and family… it truly makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, as cheesy as that sounds. Yet, as I grow older, I’ve noticed how it has changed for me and many others in my generation. Sadly, some of these changes have turned the Christmas spirit into dread, with a side of anxiety.
Considering “tis the season”, I thought I would tackle some of the new challenges millennials face when going home for the holidays, and ways to get past them and still get filled with that holiday cheer.
So what’s so different?!
For starters, now that I am considered an adult, I am expected to make my own contributions to holiday festivities, such as bringing food and gifts. The ‘rents are no longer willing to do it for me!
I am also starting to get asked really intense life questions that make me want to puke, such as: “When are you buying a house?”, “When do you want to have kids?”, “How’s your job and exactly what do you do?” and (before I became engaged this year) “When are you going to get married and settle down?”
Like any initial feelings towards change, I was completely resistant to it. I would rather try to blend in at the kids’ table, and be pretty much ignored. Ahhhh….the good ‘ole days!
But that’s simply no longer an option, and I am starting to really understand the stress our parents endured during these holiday seasons. But, does it HAVE to feel this way?!
Now, maybe this is just my optimism coming through, but I like to think that the magic I used to feel around the holidays doesn’t have to go away now that I’m an adult. I want to have my Christmas cookie (well, more like half a plate) and eat it too!
Here’s how we can still make our holidays merry and bright:
Have a positive attitude: As with anything, if you go into any event with a positive mindset and consciously point out the good, you are guaranteed to have an overall better experience. With that in mind, before going to your next holiday party, think about five things that you actually look forward to and focus on those, and NOT whatever it is that makes your skin crawl, like the side of your family that can’t help bring up politics at every gathering… For example: think about the incredible stuffing your Aunt makes, an old holiday tradition, the smell of the Christmas tree or holidays treats, the decorations, or being able to drink lots of wine and not being judged (cheers to baby Jesus!)…
Say one nice thing about every relative or non-relative that will be there. This is good mental preparation to finding some kind of good in those people who really know which buttons to push. Example, Uncle Carl and his weird refusal to shower for days, it seems, before a party. But on the flip side: perhaps he tells great stories that make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts…focus on that instead. It will help you forget/forgive that weird cheek kiss.
If you find yourself in an awkward situation or conversation that you would like to eject your seat from, change the topic and turn it onto them. Most people LOVE talking about themselves. Just ask them some questions about their favorite Christmas holiday, movie, cheese, whatever! It totally changes the topic, and they will walk away thinking you’re pretty much the greatest person ever-because you let them talk non-stop about their new knitting pattern.
Look at your gifts and food that you bring as your contribution to a great memory you’re helping create, or as a token of your gratitude to the host. The amount of time and money people put into hosting parties is way more than any of us appreciate, so helping and giving them something as a thank you, will not only make you feel good, but will make them feel appreciated.
Now, I am going to get all “Hallmark card” on you, so brace yourself…
The holiday season is meant to be remembered as a time of celebration of life and love. It’s a time we all drop our daily routines and come together again to share our kinship. It’s not about the gifts, the extravagant parties, the outfits, or the cookies. It’s about taking the time to come together and being grateful for one another and the beautiful lives that we all live … OK, it totally IS about the cookies! 😉