Whether you’re visiting family & friends over the holidays, having them to your place or celebrating solo, remember that memories – treasured or traumatic – take root in how we feel, not what we get or give. If you & someone in your circle seem to trigger each other, sparking hot words & cold shoulders, get yourself in a frame of mind that is prepared to NOT rise to the heated moment, NOT create them yourself, not think that a little back & forth is somehow a tradition worth perpetuating.
People don’t remember what they give or get as much as they remember how they felt.
Sometimes, it takes giving yourself a carved-in-stone time out ~ ~ “I will maintain a sense of holiday cheer. Practice some breathing techniques to help you maintain a genuine sense of equilibrium. Make the gathering of people you care about & love more important than scoring points.
I am not saying it will be easy. But it is IMPORTANT. And if a potentially volatile situation comes up, intentionally step away. Again, not easy – but can be done.
My sister-in-law & I are such a combination. I like to think we both wish each other well, but I know for sure that we do not do well together, especially in a chummy space like a family Christmas party. Imagine mixing Altoids & Classic Coke in a soda bottle – KABOOM! If we were ever to spend a Christmas together (she lives in Australia, so it’s not likely), I’d minimize our together time, possible, realize that I might say something that’s taken in a way not intended & not let that matter & always remember that it’s not personal as much as it’s clashing personalities.
If you are a care partner, same thing holds – what’s remembered are moments. Focus on creating simple moments of joy, which assumes that you’re not stressing out trying to recreate a holiday past or grappling with family angst. An olders sense of an event – of any sort – can spiral into unhappiness if s/he is over-tired, over-stimulated. Build in “take a breather” & even nap time.
Important – – Be prepared for the back lash that typically comes after a big holiday. It’s as much physiological as psychological – make sure that both you & the elder get plenty of sleep, eat well, tuck in some form of daily exercise. Good time to include breath work & a bit of laughter yoga! Lack of sleep, several days of iffy eating & over stimulation can result in WEEKS of short fuses, illness & depression.
So – whether you’re the older or support a loved one/friend/client, remember: we will remember moments, not memories. If something goes wrong with the turkey or the cat gets into the giblet gravy, if the restaurant ran out of your favorite dish or you host sat you next to someone who drives you nuts – – remember that what you say, feel, show is what will determine how people feel. Don’t take it personally. Keep your cool, remember that memories are rooted in feelings way more than things, & help keep the merry in Christmas, the happy in holidays.
Bonus – https://www.care.com/c/stories/5708/holiday-health-for-seniors/