Plan for the worst, Hope for the best

When it comes to difficult holiday events with family, sometimes it helps to have a plan for when things go sour. So often we walk into these events with fear, stress, anxiety, and more, but we don’t have a plan. When things take a turn for the worst, we react. That generally is not a great strategy.

So, in preparation for this holiday season, think about some ways that you can hit the “reset” button within the confines of the types of situations you find yourself in. Is there a way to hide, for instance? Can you sneak off to a bathroom and meditate (or scroll on your phone)? Can you plan to spend less time in a hostile environment? Perhaps you can plan some stock phrases for awkward conversations: “I don’t appreciate it when you talk about me that way and I think I’ll be going now,” is a better choice than “F*** You!”

What kinds of situations do you find yourself in?

How would you like to respond, if you had the option?

Wisdom for the Holidays

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

~ Proverbs 2:1-5, Message

The goal for us, at all times in life, is to live out of our certain way of seeing to the best of our ability. Sometimes there are constraints on that ability. In ideal circumstances, let’s say, I may have the potential to be 100% compassionate. Under stress, maybe the max number is something more like 50%. We don’t need to live in fear of God or shame of ourselves because we aren’t able to reach 100% compassion under stress. We’re better off realizing that 50% is the best we can do and then brainstorming how we get to that number (as opposed to tumbling down to something like 10%).

Perhaps if you spent less time with your family, you would be more likely to reach 50% compassion (or loving or gracious or merciful or whatever), than if you spent more time with them. So often we think being loving and compassionate is giving people whatever they ask for, but, sometimes when we give people everything they ask for we lose the ability to fully display our certain way of seeing. If boundaries help us get closer to our “max number”- then why not consider implementing those boundaries? Everyone wins.

Inspired Ways of Seeing

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 NIV

Whether it is a holiday event or just another day in our collective lives - we have some choices to make with regards to the way we live.

It boils down to this - are we committed to the confusing, difficult and downright hard work of acquiring wisdom?

Or are we willing to just roll the dice, live like we have always done, follow the paths trod by those who have gone before us?

This is one choice that only we can make for ourselves. No one can interfere with this choice. What do you choose?

More Holiday Lessons

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 NIV

Here’s what I learned the holiday I stood between my parents and their bickering:

* I do not want to be the relative that yells or cries when things do not go “my way”. For the traditions that really mean a lot to me? I make them happen for me. If others participate, cool. If not, I make Pete do them with me! (Marriage at its finest.)

* Do not assume that what you think is more fun, less stressful, etc. is the same perspective shared by others. As torturous as it was as a bystander to watch my parents repeat the same turkey fight every single solitary year, evidently it was not torturous for them. Otherwise, they would have changed their ways. I have stopped being the person who tries to make other people’s holiday experience stress-free, because I know that this is their work, not mine.

* I will not be hijacked by other people’s holiday expectations. The turkey debacle was not my fault, and I won’t own it. This was my home and my electric knife. I could put it in the hands of anyone I wanted to - so there!

* Finally. When possible, if you have a situation that your gut teaches you might be sticky, even though you may be the host and the owner of the knife, it might be kind to prepare people for changes in advance. That way, they can choose to show up or not, depending on their own priorities. In a million years it would not have occurred to me to talk in advance about the turkey carving, but there might be other issues that would warrant a heads up. Say, if you go vegan and plan to only serve tofu and root vegetables for dinner.

Any holiday is a good holiday to observe yourself non-judgmentally, learn a lesson or two and plan accordingly for the future!

Anticipating Holiday Problems

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 NIV

One Thanksgiving my parents almost left our house in a huff because I asked someone else to carve the Thanksgiving turkey. This was quite a shock seeing as how my father had always complained bitterly about carving and inevitably he and my mother bickered over him snacking on the turkey as he carved. She also thought he took to long. It was a thing.

I thought I was giving them the gift of peace when I asked my brother-in-law to do the knife wielding. That did not go over well, and a different fight ensued - with me being the bad guy in the story.

After that incident, I had an extremely hard time not being a cranky, ungrateful holiday participant and I am quite sure it showed. Remember my childhood promises? All down the drain. And it was all my responsibility. I was the problem.

Their bickering was really none of my business; my unease over said bickering was best handled by me with me, not in trying to avoid the experience that my parents seemed to need to have year after year.

Sometimes anticipating problems that OTHER PEOPLE appear to have over the holidays is an example of good old-fashioned codependency. This is a tradition we can jettison for the benefit of one and all.