“Whose house are you going to for Thanksgiving this year?”

Anyone who has heard this question from a family member knows it’s not harmless- it’s usually laced with expectation.
As an adult with FOUR families to please, the holidays can be a stress-inducing balancing act between expectations and guilt.  I find myself wondering how suddenly my 32 years have not added up to adulthood and making my own traditions- and instead I’m the 12 year old asking mom when the Turkey will be done.

All family dynamics are different, and you certainly don’t have control over your relatives’ behavior.

The best things you can do to deal with your family this holiday season fall on you.  Here are three ways to feel more on top it:

1. Be honest with yourself.

If you were given a truth serum and strapped to a chair to answer questions about your holiday plans- how would you answer these:
MY ideal Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas Eve would look like _____
I don’t do it that way because ___________ (I’m afraid to disappoint aunt Elsie).
If I had my perfect balance, I’d have ____________ (people, names, or no people!) over on ___________ day.
Boil this activity down to two concepts: 1: the ideal situation, and 2: Why you don’t have it.

2. Determine what’s most important to you.

Is it starting your own family tradition with your own family? Maintaining closeness and connection to your Aunts? Providing the place where everyone gathers once per year?
Choose your priority based on what’s most important to you. This creates clarity and something tangible to measure your success by.  The most important part is to also make sure it’s a self-monitored outcome. If your primary goal is to ‘fulfill expectations’ this will always be a moving target. Having external motivations puts you at the whims and fancies of everyone who steps into your house. Choose an internal motivator- always.

4. Set realistic expectations with clear communication.

Communication is KEY. If you’re switching the dynamic for the holidays you need to be clear and communicative about your plan (otherwise you’ll end up with some crabby, hurt family members). Let’s say you take my advice and you decide to start your own tradition and your top priority is to stay connected, invite your family to join you at your house this year to celebrate. You run the show, tell everyone what to bring to fit your new theme and let everything else GO. You won’t have control over their responses or schedules, but you will approach your holiday in a way that’s the most supportive and fun for you!

Live Life (More) Beautifully

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