Aaahhh, the holidays are upon us. A time where family and friends far and wide gather together. Forget about turkey tips and decorating magic, I’d like to share some pointers — which I may or may not have witnessed in real life — that have potential to create some truly awesome discomfort at this festive time.
- If you have a spouse who refuses to get help for a mental or mood disorder and has not made it through one single Christmas gathering without giving in to paranoid grandeur, please feel free to bring Spouse one more time. I’m sure this year will be completely different than the last 100 in a row. Nothing says peace, love and good tidings like having no-stake-in-reality accusations loudly hurled at everyone present as they sit to eat a scrumptious holiday meal.
- Feel free to secretly drink and act like you aren’t until no one can figure out what the heck you are saying. Convince yourself that nobody knows. Bonus discomfort is possible if you repeat the same incomprehensible phrase or sentence 20 times in a row while patting the leg of the poor soul that innocently got trapped sitting next to you.
- If you want to confuse kids and make them squirmy uncomfortable, tell them you are their aunt or uncle and that your children are their cousins from this point forward. Even if they only kinda sorta know you, are not actually related, see you at most, like, three times a year, and, though you are considered friends with their parents on some level, you’re not all that close.
- Correct everyone, every sentence, every action, every thought. Make sure all is correctly corrected to your satisfaction. All. day. long. Add a little spice by leaving in a huff because people, too polite to scream out loud, can only take a deep breath, let it out slowly and stare silently in your direction whenever you once again let them know what loser stupid heads they all are.
- Tell stories of any one of the guest’s youthful indiscretions in front of guest’s young and impressionable children. Crank up the sweat factor by including details of drinking or drug use involved in these incidences while younger ears are soaking it all in. It’s even more fun if the young ones are at an age where they totally understand. Press on with your storytelling even after being asked to stop and prompted to remember that those things happened long ago in a galaxy far, far away… and because the kids, for the love of all that’s good and holy.
There are many more ways to foster discomfort and provide gentle reminders why folks never want to spend time with you, but these hints should give you a running start.
Maybe, just maybe, this year things could be different? People care about you, or would like to, but you seem determined to destroy that. Aren’t you even a wee bit tired of all the drama?
While any one of the uncomfortable situations listed above could use a little attention to the why of it, exercising a touch of wisdom and developing a good respect for healthy boundaries goes a long way to sidestepping most of the scenarios.
Um, ok, but … what’s a healthy boundary?
Well, let’s see… For example, there is nothing wrong with reminiscing, but when someone asks you to stop talking about their past, respect the request and find something else to talk about. You do care about this person right? They have grown up quite a bit and walked a long road to put difficult issues to rest. Live in the present. Get to know who they are now.
In the case of Spouse with untreated mental/mood disorder, it’s mandatory Spouse stays away from these gatherings until mental health becomes a priority. If you want to see friends and family, call and make one-on-one dates. If Spouse is getting help, but a little shaky, consider taking the pressure off and stay home anyway. Relax and don’t feed the triggers.
If you’re still reading this and mulling over the possibility of making this a better holiday season, it may help to focus on the reason for the holiday. What is the importance of whatever it is you’re celebrating? Do you believe it? Does it matter? What’s the purpose? Does this day have any personal, real significance in your life? Or is it just something you do because it’s just what you do? Do I ask too many questions?
I only throw those questions out because I’m a terribly curious person. Plus, you need a place to start right? If you’d like to step off the dysfunctional merry-go-round, then question the status quo. Act like you’re an outsider looking in at the situation for the first time. If the answers keep coming back “that’s just the way it is,” tell yourself it doesn’t have to be. Beliefs, thoughts, ways of doing things don’t have any real significance without being challenged every once in a while, especially if they have no actual meaning to begin with.
Simply going through the motions is a bit of a lifeless way of living and so is enduring constant chaos. Don’t you think you are worth far more than that? God made you for so much more than the same old, same old.
If I don’t see you before Thanksgiving, may you have an amazing day filled with love, laughter and special moments. God bless.