Families today are changing the way they celebrate Holidays, being so many of them deal with divorced and, or remarried parents…not to mention their grown children whom also share in spousal separation of parents and significant others. The traditional Christmas seems to be something of the past, but still exist for a slim few. It’s no secret that when this particular season rolls around, many become distressed, whether it’s about finances or family issues…it all comes out the same for most, ‘Stress at its best.’ This makes a lot of extended families endure the pressures of holding in their personal feelings, which can become a hidden time bomb ready to explode at many minute. Feelings of anxiety and depression can get the best of anyone facing a get-together with all extended members. So how can that kind of stress be alleviated in order to have a happier holiday, without all of the chaos and feelings of despair? The holiday season doesn’t have a perfect blueprint to abide by, though it’d be nice.

My family is no exception when it comes to Christmas, there’s always a bit of stress. As far as who sees the kids, including grandchildren… on what day, meaning the celebration to be held on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day…those should be alternated year by year, it’s only fair. No one wants to feel this type of stress, nor is it good for anyone. I believe if you have family members that have tougher schedules, it’d be thoughtful of one to take that into consideration in your holiday planning, after all…everyone should be kindhearted this time of year, this is what it’s all about; love, joy and engaging in the Christmas spirit. It has become so commercialized, we get lost in the real meaning of Christmas. If you have family that cannot afford gifts, let it go. Times have changed, and for many it’s become a struggle to purchase gifts for everyone they’d like to, so understand their feelings and communicate with one another. Don’t expect people to exchange gifts without first discussing the holiday plan. There can always be improvement when it comes to relationships, especially within blended families. Be considerate, while keeping conflicts to a minimal…listen to what they’re telling you, not with only your ears, but allow your heart to feel what it is they are trying to convey with you. Also, being flexible with schedules and tentative plans will show how much you’re willing to work around issues that could come into play.

One of the saddest things this time of year is the fact that many family members don’t always live close together any longer, whether it’s a hike to other counties or miles across states, it can be difficult to plan. As we get older, things change even more; our children have careers that make it difficult for them to be off part of the holidays, and parents retire to other climates. No matter how you look at it, someone may not always make it, leaving other family members to be alone during the holiday season. Make it a point to call them, or better yet…skyping is always a great idea (or facetime for I-phone users), this enables you to have a virtual visit. Set up a certain day (or evening) allowing enough time for all to join in a virtual celebration. For those that might not have the capability of doing this, check with your local churches or rec centers for any possible activities that might help engage you to be with others. We are all human, and this time of year isn’t always the best for some; even nursing homes have people with no family, so making a visit to a stranger …it can truly be rewarding for both. Have a heart, and remember…smile to those who pass, because you never know how someone else may be feeling this time of year; it might make their day a little brighter…and who doesn’t want that? Have a blessed season.

Make your week count.