You vow that you will never put yourself through a Christmas like that ever again. It was meant to be enjoyable, you put a shit load of effort into making it enjoyable and it was something of an endurance event and people cried. The problem is that as next Christmas looms, you’ll vaguely remember this Christmas was at times awful and there were things you were going to do differently, but you won’t remember what or why. You also won’t remember what went well. Sometimes we are destined to live in repeating patterns unless we run our family lives a bit like a business.
If you live in a ‘complicated’ family and you’re emerging out of a tangled and at times unbearable mess, I offer a tip. I’m not usually into tippy tips, but this one works for me.
I bring to you The Christmas Lessons Learnt:
- Find a pen and paper, or open the notes on your phone. Wherever you write this thing, it has to be easily findable next year.
- Mentally walk yourself through the Christmas season and write down what went right and what went wrong. For example: bought pot plant for neighbours and they really liked it, cooked Christmas dinner from scratch, no one ate it and I flipped my lid, certain person took centre stage, we responded and we still haven’t recovered from the fall out.
- Now write down how you intend to manage that hazy faraway place that is next Christmas. You may want to think extra hard about how you can take pressure off and the bits everyone enjoys which are easy to achieve. There will be more difficult parts too – the people and relationship stuff, the boundary-setting and protecting time and events that are precious to you. In my experience, this plan should be fairly specific – buy frozen roast potatoes, book a supermarket delivery at the start of December and order the non-perishables, don’t even consider the panto, let certain loved ones live out their own choices, don’t rescue.
- Put or save your list somewhere safe and write a prompt with an alert in your calendar, round about 1 December. Read Lessons Learnt from last year.
Writing a Lessons Learnt is not only an investment in next year, it is superbly cathartic. And filing it away means we can move on and face the new year, with fresh hopes and plans.
I’m over making grand new year resolutions but I like the sense of a fresh start. Wherever this new year finds you, I hope that 2022 brings you companionship and good times. If you’re not yet ready to look ahead then finish off the sherry and give yourself a pat on the back. No matter how well or not it all went, it’s done and over with for another year. The very happiest of new years to you.