Everyone wants a perfect holiday. The candlelit dinner with the gorgeous turkey and delicious pumpkin pie dessert; the immaculately wrapped presents with bows that were made by a bowdabra; the family memories of adorably dressed children with matching holiday outfits; they are all part of the Norman Rockwell painting version of Christmas you aspire to create each year.
Christmas is the holiday of holidays. Between the presents, the food, the crazy relatives – it can be super stressful to try to make Christmas perfect. How do you manage your visiting family and enjoy the most stressful holiday of the year?
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Let go of your ideas of the Perfect Christmas.
The truth is that most of us are just thankful the food is on the table, even if it is half an hour late. The vision of the perfect Christmas replaced with the not-so-perfect reality.
The pie is a little burnt on the edges, and the presents haven’t had a bow on them since you gave birth to the third kid. Some of the kids are wearing wet bathing suits, and a toddler is streaking through the house.
The in-laws are telling inappropriate jokes and someone mentioned the recent election. Now a full-scale argument is going on in the living room, and the baby is eating out of the dog bowl.
Perfection isn’t happening this Christmas, and there is no point in stressing about it. It’s done. Give yourself permission to make the holidays something you will enjoy.
Give Yourself Permission To Find Your Zen.
When your relatives from near and far flood your house, you need a place to escape. Find a place you can hide, if only for the moment.
For me, it’s the laundry room.
You might think it would be the bathroom, but don’t kid yourself. The kids have never considered that a place to leave you in peace. Why should they start now?
Head to the shower and now you not only have your children visiting with questions of “Where are my socks?”, but they brought their cousins with them.
The laundry room is your only place of solace. No one comes in there unless they’re looking for their socks. And, if they do come in, jump up and pretend to be actually folding clothes. Suggest they help fold. Nothing empties a room like a suggestion to do chores.
Take your tea, your chocolate, whatever you need to decompress and hide amongst the dirty towels. Enjoy your free moment until you hear Aunt Gladys rummaging through your kitchen drawers. Zen time is up. You must enter the “world of the visiting relatives” again.
Give Yourself Permission To Order Out. A lot.
If you have relatives staying for several days, do yourself a solid. Only prepare to cook for Christmas. Order out every other meal, or better yet, take them all out. It will save your house and your sanity.
Sure, it won’t be cheap. But think of it is a Christmas present for everyone.
They get a warm, delicious meal and you don’t have to spend the next six hours cooking and cleaning your kitchen. It’s a win-win.
Give Yourself Permission To Sit Back And Watch The show.
If you have let go of perfection, found your Zen and ordered out, then you need to step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Instead of panicking when Uncle Jeb mentions his feelings on the Affordable Care Act, chuckle when Cousin Lauren berates him for his Facebook post about illegal immigration.
When the kids decide to give the dog a bubble bath, don’t freak out. Enjoy the looks of fright as Great Aunt Marge is pelted by a wet, soapy dog.
But, mostly, watch as your family spends time together visiting. Take videos of Aunt Janie and Uncle Roger as they perform a duet of “O Holy Night.”
Snap a shot of all the cousins circled around a board game.
Enjoy the moment when your teenage son ventures from his bedroom to hang out with his “uncool family.”
Sit back and soak up the memories.
Give yourself permission to let go of that Norman Rockwell version of the holidays and embrace your reality. Because next year, you’ll have forgotten the dry mashed potatoes and the pile of dirty dishes, but you will remember the laughter and the love.
Want more tips on surviving the holidays with visiting family? Hop on over to Life of a Homeschool Mom where I’m guest posting in the ABC’s of Homeschooling Through the Holidays.
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