QUESTION: I am dreading the holidays!
We always fight over whose house we should go to for Christmas. If
it were totally up to me I'd just stay home. What should we do to
avoid this yearly fight this holiday season?
ANSWER: You have deadened your holiday
spirit with family rituals that have become stale instead of meaningful.
Take a step back to reevaluate what you want the meaning of the holidays
to be for your immediate family. Turn your attention and energies
to creating a family event that you can look forward to rather than
Why not start your own family tradition this year?
Perhaps it is time for the two of you to stop fighting about whose
relatives you should visit and develop a holiday ritual centered in
The initiation of your own family rituals is a necessary
step new families must take to establish family identity. This does
not mean that you must forgo seeing family relatives. Instead, invite
them to your house if you would like, or let them know that you are
having your own family ritual this year and want to visit them on
another day to exchange gifts and holiday cheer.
Family rituals die if they do not remain enjoyable
and meaningful to family members. For example, a large family gathering
at your parents house may have provided a wonderful sense of connection
as a child. It may even have continued as a family touchstone in your
early adulthood, as you looked forward to the holidays. But, gradually
changes are needed in any family ritual, so that it continues to meet
the needs of it's growing members.
When spouses are added to the family, new conflicts
can arise over how to continue holiday celebrations. Issues of inclusion
and exclusion and how to celebrate can become heated between spouses.
Taking turns attending one another's family celebrations over the
holidays is a common first step, as spouses get to know their in-laws
and an understanding of the established rituals of each partner's
The next step, however, is to create your own unique
family culture, which blends your traditions in a way that brings
cohesion and enjoyment to both of you and your own children. Do not
stop short of taking responsibility to develop your own family identity.
Take action to recover your holiday spirit. Participate in your family
history by creating it.
Talk with your partner about a solution to your apathy.
Remember that rituals of all kinds, whether they be our weekly patterns,
(such as pancakes for Sunday breakfast), or major holiday celebrations,
serve to hold families together. Meaningful ritual is the basis for
family bonding over a lifetime. These rituals must be adjusted to
the needs of the changing family situation so that they remain alive,
instead of stagnate.