My own family has been going through a painful trial the past few weeks, the details of which I will not go into. But it has been a time for prayer, consoling, and unconditional loving. In today’s age when dysfunctional families are more the norm than the exception, that seems like something nearly impossible.
I am directly copying (below) advice from another counseling friend, Dr. Harold Duncan of Preston Place Counseling in Dallas. This came from his recent post and email entitled “A Word About The Holidays.”
This is sage and safe advice. As we all know, there seem to be some in most every family who wear their feelings on their sleeves, just waiting for someone to come along and bump into them and give them new reason for aggression and resentment. So here are Harold’s suggestions:
1. Slow down
- Take time to think about what is really going on–the significance of the season.
- Gifts are a form of communication. Consider what you are saying by means of your gift.
- The most meaningful gifts are not necessarily the most expensive.
3. Pay attention to your health.
- Monitor what you eat and drink. Focus on moderation.
- Get enough rest and relaxation.
4. Plan ahead-avoid overloading your schedule–decide to say “no” to some of what is expected of you.
- Set and stick to you own realistic limits.
- Don’t commit to more than you can handle.
- If traveling, allow yourself plenty of time.
5. Make your own plans–do not defer all your time to others.
- Make plans to do something you enjoy.
- Make plans to be with people you enjoy.
- Say “no” if you don’t want to do something.
6. Allow yourself to feel sadness and grief when appropriate.
- Say a special prayer or memorial for a loved one, make a keepsake ornament, reminisce and don’t deny the grief or pain you may experience.
7. Don’t use the holidays for family therapy.
- This is not a good time to work on your spouse’s attitude or your mother-in-law’s sharp tongue.
- People are probably not going to change much–especially during the holidays.
- Courtesy is usually a very important priority.
8. Consider volunteering some of your time to help others.
- Take clothes to a homeless shelter.
- Serve food to the needy.
- Provide gifts to a child.
9. If your “holiday blues” don’t lift after a few weeks, seek help.
- Feelings of depression and anxiety that are moderate to severe and long-lasting may be signs of an illness that should be discussed with your physician or counselor.
Be safe out there traveling. Take lots of pictures. And keep love in your heart. We’re all only here for a whisper of time. Make the most of every breath, during the holidays and throughout the rest of each year as well.
God Bless you all.