It’s that time of year again. You know . . . visions of sugar plums and all that. Days filled with family gatherings, warm fires, singing of carols, and bah humbug.
Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy the holidays. Even more now that the pressure of Sunday School plays and my mother’s critique of dinner has passed. I don’t even feel the need to deck the halls most years now.
If you are honest with yourself, and maybe others, you feel the same way. The holidays are not the stuff that tradition tells us they should be. Instead many approach the season with at least an unspoken feeling of dread.
For families who have a loved one with mental illness, the holidays can be devastating. Even if our loved one is doing well the rest of the year, the stress of family gatherings can be overwhelming.
We are often the buffer for our loved one. We tend to run interference with Uncle George who ask if those crazy voices have gone away. Or we defend when Cousin Sally exclaims how well her offspring is doing at Yale, what is yours doing with his life?
One way you can help your loved one is by not forcing attendance at these events. One year, at the last minute, our son decided not to attend the family Thanksgiving dinner at his brother’s house. He said that he just couldn’t “deal with it.” So be it. He was more comfortable, and there was no holiday incident.
Another way is to take the emphasis off traditions and expectations, and put it where it belongs: on the baby who was born in a stable. When we focus on Jesus, no matter the family situation, we are free to celebrate in a way that fits us and our loved one.
Read more holiday survival tips at The Family Room.
How do you survive the holidays?