How to Have the Worst Christmas Ever (and solutions for a good one)
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The Worst Christmas Ever
Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year with all the family traditions and the parties. Instead, Christmas is the worst time of the year for many.
I think most of us go into the Christmas season with a fresh new lease on life thinking this year is going to be different.
Everything is going to be perfect.
We have these great expectations that our family is going to sip hot cocoa while decorating the tree, all the shopping will be done early, and, this year, “Uncle Bernie,” (insert name) is going to be pleasant and charming.
You might even have images of yourself floating through the holiday singing “Silent Night” and happily wrapping 50 presents. Okay, maybe not, but you get the point.
Meanwhile, in real life… the decorations and the tree barely get up (it was by blackmail and threats), no shopping has been done (broke), everyone has the flu, and “Uncle Bernie” is still a turd.
All hopes get dashed when this happens, and things just go downhill (crash and burn) from there.
Nothing seems worth the effort. It becomes the worst Christmas ever. I have felt this way many times.
I do distinctly remember several years where I just decided not to decorate inside or outside the house for Christmas. My family was so mad at me. They couldn’t believe I boycotted Christmas. I really did this. I didn’t feel the spirit moving me to pull out all of those dusty, allergy-infested bins in the attic, spend thankless hours by myself creating a magical wonderland (Bah-humbug), and then take the decorations back down 3 weeks later while everyone else just admired my work.
Yes, I know. I was a real-life Grinch, but I had a good reason. I was dealing with a family estrangement.
One year I made the kids help me. I even offered to pay them.
It turned into a day of threats, fights, and complaints. I decided it was better to only ruin my holiday doing the decorations and not theirs too.
I wanted a holiday after the holidays.
If you are feeling this way, then maybe you can learn from me and be a little better at the whole holiday cheer.
Let me give you the 3 things that have ruined my holiday season and made it the worst Christmas ever, and my solutions to help turn things around:
1. Have Unrealistic Expectations
The holidays are the worst at setting us up for failure. I always had all these expectations of myself and expectations for others, too. I was going to go to Christmas concerts, attend plays, decorate the inside and outside of the house, make cookies, create homemade gifts, watch the Hallmark channel, attend church, and etc….
This is a self-imposed list. What made it worse is I thought people were going to help me with all my plans.
No wonder I just quit some years. I couldn’t do it all so I gave up. And I was angry no one wanted to help.
a). Pick one event you really want to attend and do it.
It is fun when you can attend an event as a family such as a Christmas Eve candlelight service or even church on Sunday. It makes the holiday come alive and seem magical. What is so great is if you keep doing it, it will become a family tradition.
Traditions are important for the core family with just you, your husband, and kids. Start traditions when your kids are young, and then the extended family will get used to the idea. As far as any other things during the holiday, do what you can.
b). Pick one craft to do.
I decided to make gingerbread cookies with the kids every year. They liked it so much that I also bought a gingerbread house. THEY totally did the decorating.
The gingerbread houses are around $10 at Wal-mart.
Several years in a row my daughter’s friends have helped decorate. It was something Christmasy (is this a word?) to do with her friends, and it kept them busy. Here are some suggestions from my Pinterest page.
c). Pick a day to decorate the house that fits with YOUR schedule.
I decided to do it before Thanksgiving Day. It’s my house, and that is what is easiest for me. I just leave the dining room decor set for Thanksgiving dinner, and the rest of the house is a Christmas wonderland. After Thanksgiving, I remove the fall decor in the dining room and replace it with the rest of the Christmas items. Bam! It’s all done.
For those of you who think this is heresy, no problem. Kill yourself after Thanksgiving while I am by the fireplace watching a movie and drinking that hot cocoa.
I put the wreaths outside the first week in December, and no one is the wiser except my family. And now everyone reading this. My family loves the extra holiday cheer in the house even though it is early in the season.
Pin for later!
2. Focus On Things
When the kids are little, it is easy to get caught up in Santa, gifts, candy, and all the other trappings of the holiday. I think we have forgotten the real reason for the season.
It’s Jesus’ birth.
Materialism has seeped so deep into our culture that it has replaced any need for a Savior. Even as a devout Christian, I have let stuff get in the way of focusing on what I wanted instead of what I needed-God.
Toys: Christmas is really fun with little kids. Your budget can go a long way with toys and trinkets, but they don’t need to open 15 presents. They can’t process that much stuff mentally.
Dave Ramsey has an excellent article on this subject, and great suggestions to manage your gift-giving. As our kids have gotten older, we have moved to a more minimalistic holiday. We just do stocking stuffers, cash, and one gift from Santa.
That way you don’t have to kill yourself shopping for a massive list, fight the holiday crowd, or mess with the returns. Let the older kids shop after Christmas. Things are on sale, and they can get what they want.
I like this suggestion for giving gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. 4 gifts. I might try that this year.
Mission Project: The best way to get the kid’s focus off themselves is to do a mission project with them.
Adopt an angel through the Salvation Army, feed the homeless through an organization such as Union Gospel Mission, or mail a shoebox gift to kids overseas through Operation Christmas Child.
We have done all of these in the past. As a family, we have found feeding the homeless the most meaningful as it sets the right tone for the season.
Pin for later!
3. Lose Hope
I think losing hope is one of the reasons so many people get depressed around the holidays. We expect people to be something they are never going to be. I can’t tell you how many times I have been let down because I hoped “things would be different this year.”
It is easy to set ourselves up to hope “Uncle Bernie” is going to be different only to find he’s still…”Uncle Bernie.” He’s probably going to get drunk, cuss a few times, and say something rude to you or, better yet, make a freaking scene at the dinner table.
You can’t expect people to miraculously change, but you can pray that the time you spend with “Bernie” will be meaningful and quiet. Some people tend to act worse during the holidays because they are hurting and don’t know how to express their feelings appropriately.
Instead of putting your hope in people, it is better to put your hope in a Person. Jesus.
Take time as a family to read the Christmas Story (Luke 2), pray together and read things that give hope (pray for “Bernie”), or watch a movie that focuses on the meaning of Christmas.
Going back to the reason for the holiday will give you a new sense of purpose and meaning to why you are celebrating in the first place.
When you eat together with extended family, keep reminding yourself that it’s just one meal. (If you’re stuck with “Bernie” for days, you might cut that trip short).
Bite your tongue and be pleasant. Try focusing on serving others; kindness goes a long way. (Serving keeps you busy and away from “Uncle Bernie”). Set boundaries and stick to them.
Guaranteed Worst Christmas
If you want the worst Christmas ever then have unrealistic expectations of yourself and those around you, force everyone to meet your needs, and have no regard for other’s time and schedule.
Buy your kid’s everything they could ever want, go into debt, and make it all about the stuff.
Overcommit, lose sleep and run yourself ragged because you have stayed up all night wrapping gifts. Don’t create any family traditions or even bother to spend time with the ones you love because you are too busy. Focus on yourself and what you have done.
Forget God because it’s all about you. Don’t stop to worship the One who was born and made your life possible. Lose hope and just give up. When you are with extended family dominate the conversation at the table and don’t let anyone else get in a word.
Get drunk, cuss at family, get into a fight, and make everyone else around you suffer. You are guaranteed a holiday to remember as the worst Christmas ever. The only thing worse than this is doing it over and over every year.
Have you had a bad Christmas? What did you do to turn it around?
Do You Have Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
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