Surviving the Holidays: Finances, Family & Self.
Do not go into debt. Do not allow toxic people to impact your health. And do not let anyone call you fat. The Holidays are about love and being with those you love. Not doing the "I have to's"
The holidays can often bring stress and frustration. It is not supposed to be this way, but I am sure you can name a few things about the holidays that cause you stress. Maybe it is finances. You want to be able to give quality gifts, but don’t have the budget to do so. Maybe it is the idea of seeing family members that you don’t get along with. No matter how hard you try, cordial interaction just isn’t going to happen. Maybe it is the food. The mountains of sugar, the unending buffets of meat, creamy potatoes and bread. It can be overwhelming and damaging to your mental health to tackle it all. I know my Stress List seems to multiple this time of year.
I recently saw an imagine floating around the internet, and I wish I knew who posted it originally so that I could give credit. But since I don’t I will summarize it for you. It said: “Christmas Rules: Don’t go into debt trying to show people how much you love them. Don’t go visit your family if it compromises your health. If someone comments on your weight… eat them.”
At the beginning of each year, most of us make promises similar to these: I will get out of debt. I will not let (Fill in their name) get to me. I will lose weight/love my body better. Each year, we recommit to these promises, but at the end of each year, we are faced with a time where all three promises are put to the test. But they do not have to be. I wanted to give you some tangible ways to follow these Christmas Rules as stress free as possible.
Don’t go into to debt. - This is easier said than done. I know I am very guilty of pulling out the credit card and swiping to buy last minute Christmas gifts or impulse buys. It is easy to go off your plan and go on a spending frenzy. Ways to avoid this: plan ahead and make a budget. Make a list of everyone you want to buy a gift for. Write out what you are going to give them and what it will cost. Keep to your budget. You do not need to buy a gift for everyone.
If you have family members who you feel you need to compete with or need to “out gift” consider having an honest conversation with them about your limits on Christmas spending. Consider doing a gift exchange with the adults in your family instead of buying individual gifts for everyone. Consider doing something homemade or from the heart. Write a meaningful card and give some homemade cookies. The holidays are not about things - no matter what Target & Amazon say.
Don’t go visit family if it compromises your health. - Yup. I said it.
This subject can be a little touchy, but I think it is the most important one. You do not have to see your family on the holidays if it causes severe anxiety, panic attacks, heavy drinking, over spending or depression. Your health is the most important thing. If seeing your cousin, grandma or in-law impacts your health negatively, do not do it. Do not do it out of obligation or guilt.
I know that it can be hard to navigate this one, but putting boundaries in place, may save your sanity. Your core family - you, your spouse, your children - come first. Growing up, I had an family member who would drink heavily, dominate conversation, be vial and cause drama at every family gathering. I would get so anxious on the drive over to their house, thinking about what might happen. It wasn't healthy and caused me a lot of stress as a child.
I do not think my parents fully realized the anxiety I had. But I can tell you this, if you the parent are anxious about seeing toxic family members - your child will feel it and internalize it. They may even stress about it like you do. Keep this in mind when committing to family gatherings. There are times when you will feel like you cannot say no to a family gathering. Maybe there is a severely sick relative, or maybe someone is visiting from out of town, or maybe saying no cause severe repercussions in the following months. Here are some things you can do: get together on another day - pick a day other than December 25th to celebrate with external family, suggest getting together in a mutual place - go to a park, a restaurant - (where you can leave if you need to), set a leaving time - and stick to it.
Commenting on your weight. - Whether you have gained weight, lost weight, maintained your weight, you do not need to let others talk about your weight. You can change the subject or walk away. Your weight does not define you. The weight you have lost or gained does not define you.
If you read anything in this post, read this: You are not defined by your finances, family drama or weight! End of story. The holidays can bring out the worst in some people, but the good news is you do not have to let them bring out the worst in you. The Holidays are not about gifts, unhealthy relationships or your weight. The holiday season is about remembering the gift of Christ. The sacrifice God made to send his son, Jesus to earth to live with us.
I pray that your holidays are filled with peace and laughter. I hope that you surround yourself with others who make you feel loved and valued. I pray that during this season, you are reminded of God’s love and grace given to us through Jesus Christ.
May God Bless you this holiday season.