Put a bunch of relatives together who have unresolved business, add in high expectations and you’ve got a holiday gathering that results in hurt feelings all around. The most joyous time of the year…
If alcohol and firearms are involved, this can be a deadly time of the year.
You have the highest expectations of the ones you love. They’re supposed to know you and love you the best, but this is not always so. Some families don’t have the tools to deal with explosive issues or some family members may try to bury hurts, trying not to ever face them again.
Don’t count on these conflicts not coming up.
It can be difficult to come to terms with the reality that these differences can only be resolved when both or all family members involved actually decide to address the matter. Professional counseling can help. Some folks, however, don’t think jealousies and hurts will ever be solved and they then think it best to never go there.
But buried challenges have a tendency to spring up when we least want them.
All the celebratory stuff that goes with holidays–indulging heavily in spirits and food–push tolerances to the edge. How many folks strategize and plan how they’ll interact while driving to a family gathering?
Don’t bring up whether cousin Brandon has a job yet or Don’t mention that your mom’s weight loss surgery doesn’t seem to have slowed her eating down.
It’s not that you don’t love these people. They’re family and you might love them deeply, even if you don’t like them. Challenges can abound, however. The range is remarkably typical: Rivalries between siblings, anger over children’s or siblings life choices, money lent and not repaid. It can be as deep as how one deals with historical child abuse or as shallow as how different family members vote or spend their money. Some people struggle because their parents seem not to care about them and never really seem concerned about how their lives are going. Some individuals are frustrated by parents who can’t seem to manage appropriate boundaries and want to tell them how to live their lives.
As if getting all together wasn’t difficult enough, throw in the giving of gifts. When individuals don’t feel their relationships are equal or when they don’t feel really loved, they tend to weigh with an eagle eye the money that was spent on gifts. Parents know this. Why do so many of us run around trying to get equal gifts?
Given the heavy family emphasis at this time of year, many people try to gather in spite of problems. They subscribe to the let’s just pretend this isn’t a problem now theory.
So, people can feel bruised after the holidays are more tense than they’d hoped.
Maybe January is a good time to start working toward resolving problems or at least work toward finding a personal decision on how you’re going to respond. The holiday season comes once a year, but there are many celebratory opportunities throughout the year.
It might be time to give yourself the present of talking with someone about how best for you to handle these.