I come into Christmas break with high expectations each year. Here is a time of love, laughter, presents, food, family, and fighting. I wanted to say fun, I really did. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas break, but sometimes the bickering drives me insane. The problem of having two high functioning alpha dogs as kids is that nature only allows one alpha dog in the pack…and that’s me! It is rather fascinating to watch the downward spiral as sugar and time take effect. I expect family to get along and learn to discuss, even debate, but keep a civil tone. Unfortunately that does not always happen.
How do we learn to get along with family that might drive us nuts? Here are a few tips to make it through week two of Christmas break.
1. Sleep more. In pragmatic terms, this keeps distance and reduces time. The more sleep over night and later into the morning reduces the amount of opportunity to fight. Also, it gives our bodies a chance to recuperate from the day. Family time is needed in all of our lives, but we live so independent that coming together can wear us out. Sleep allows your body to reset itself. Instead of pulling all-nighters playing games, watching movies, etc, sleep more.
2. Eat Better. The high sugar content of this season gets us out of whack. We run to family and eat quick on the way. We run to the after Christmas sales and eat on the go. Most of us sit down and eat one good meal with family and call it Christmas dinner. That night is usually the best because we all ate properly. Take time to eat fruit more than fruitcake and eggs more than egg nog.
3. Listen first. If we would listen to the other person first before reacting it would help. Learning to listen is a part of maturity, but is also a hard lesson to learn. Listening takes strength and courage. Lashing out with words is the easy reaction that anyone can do. Withholding words and setting your mind to hear and listen to others takes energy. If we do not someone will kill someone else before the week is out, or everyone runs screaming to their rooms and slams doors. Where is the “peace on earth” in those moments?
4. Think of others. This one is risky because the other may not think of you. When deciding on pretty much anything, stop and consider what the other person might want to do, play, eat, or buy. When doing this you are taking the high road. Thinking of others before yourself is selfless and sacrificial. Now, you cannot play the martyr here and beg for your wishes later. Thinking of others is civilized and we are, right?
5. Take turns. Who picked last time? OK, then someone else picks this time. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast! However, if you instill this from the beginning it makes life easier down the road. Taking turns is critical to lasting through the breaks. We made a sign one year that had the names of our two one on each side. After they chose a game, the card was flipped over. Next time, even a day later it was easy to see whose turn it was and this reduced the number of fights about the next game to play.
6. Read and Rest. This is not sleep time. This is a time when everyone takes a break and does something on their own in their own space. We encourage reading. The days have long passed since naps would be taken, except for one of us who is unnamed! The rest take some downtime and read. This does not have to be all day, but an hour or 2 in the afternoon will help ease the transitions. Each can have the pleasure of doing their own thing, which will allow for the ability to think of others more later.
7. Remember what is important. What will be remembered 20 years from now? 30 years? Family. The important part of these breaks is family. Family outweighs the presents, choices, fights, and more. Family spending time together is difficult and will be what is remembered later. Those funny moments. As you guide yours through this break remember what is important. God and family. Raise these up and let them shine for all to see.
We each enter the breaks with high expectations. We want that perfect family picture; that greatest gift/game; that fightless week. These rarely happen and, in our mind, the day/break is shot. When we come into these breaks with “movie level” expectations we are setting ourselves up for failure. Lower them to a realistic level and watch your joy increase. Nobody is perfect. No present will wash away all of the pain. No time will fix everything. Yet, we can come to these moments and walk away with joy in our soul if we just be real with the time and people involved.
Have a great second week!!!
James 4:1-3 NLT
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.