Where’s Your Brother? He’s The One I Really Want To See…

holiday-stressIt’s the holidays! What would a good, decadent, calorie-laden meal be without a case of red face, churning stomach and steam pouring from your ears?

There’s no time like the holidays for a good dose of button pushing. And, your family members can push your buttons like no one else.

How often do your buttons get pushed? Take our quick test:

1. It’s time to carve the turkey, which you’ve purchased pre-cooked from the local deli. Your sister comments, “It looks dry. That’s why I won’t buy pre-cooked turkey. You can’t control the quality.”

You:

A.
Scream: “Why do you have to be such a pain in the butt, Susie? Why!!! I hate that you’re my sister!!” Your brother removes the carving knife from your waving hand and suggests that you take some for yourself. Outside. And, it’s 3 below zero.

B. Excuse yourself from the table, go to your bedroom, and scream into a pillow. By the time you return to the table, the mashed potatoes are gone. Gone.

C. Take a deep breath, count to ten and say: “Time’s a precious commodity to me. I spent time with Mom this week and buying the pre-cooked turkey allowed me that extra time. We had a great week together. It sounds like you’d like to make the turkey next year, Susie. Consider it a done deal. You’ll make the turkey next year.” And, then you enjoy those mashed potatoes you’ve been dreaming of.

2. Your family has just exchanged gifts. Your brother looks at you and says, “Dad’s loaded. Couldn’t you have cut loose with the purse strings this year and actually gotten something that we’ll like?”

You:

A. Wad up your wrapping paper and throw it, hard, at your brother, aiming for his eye, which you hit. You spend the next 20 minutes washing out his eye and trying to reach his doctor.

B. Wad up wrapping paper, bring it into the kitchen and jam it into the garbage can, envisioning that the wrapping paper is really your brother’s head. While jamming the paper into the can, you sprain your back.

C. Give yourself time to collect your thoughts and say, “I’m required by the courts to spend Dad’s money wisely so he has money he needs for any care requirements. Here’s Dad’s lawyer’s phone number if you’d like to give him a call and complain about your gift.” You enjoy a wink and a smile from your husband.

3. It’s two weeks before Thanksgiving and your oldest daughter calls. She had promised to host Thanksgiving this year, but now she says that her boyfriend doesn’t want the mess to be at their place. So, she announces, she’s bringing her, her three kids, her boyfriend, and his five kids, to your house. What time should they plan on arriving, she wonders?

You:

A. Cry; really, you sob, and ask your daughter: “What did I do to deserve such a messed-up, ungrateful, good-for-nothing daughter?” The next week is spent apologizing to your daughter and babysitting.

B. Say, “Be here at 5”, hang up and then head for the backyard with your pack of cigarettes and six pack of beer. The next day you feel like, well, you don’t feel all that great.

C. Regain your calm and say: “I’m not having Thanksgiving here. I’m sure you and your boyfriend will be able to make other plans. We would have loved to be at your home for the day. Since that’s no longer an option, your mother and I will make other plans. I appreciate the call because now I have time to make those plans.” When you hang up, you call the restaurant you’ve always wanted to try at Thanksgiving. And, then you call your ol’ Army buddy and invite him to join you.

4. You worry that this will be the last holiday season for your caree. With that in mind, you make extra efforts to make the holidays really special. On January 3, your caree tells you: “Your stuffing isn’t as good as your sister’s. I wish she could have made it this year. She makes the holidays so special. Without her, the holidays are just blah.

You:

A. Yell at the top of your lungs, stomping your feet with each syllable: “What am I, chopped liver? Would it kill you to say, just once, thank you? Why is it so hard to acknowledge all that I do for you?” Your caree starts crying and can’t stop. You don’t speak to each other for three days.

B. Leave the room, plotting how to make this really your careet’s last holiday. You’re thinking so hard that a migraine sidelines you for two days.

C. Count to 20 (this one really got you) and say: “I miss my sister, too. I’m glad you and I were able to spend time together this year. I took some lovely photographs that will always remind me of how important this holiday was to me and how special I made it.” You excuse yourself for some alone with your journal—to let it all out.

How did you do?

If you scored mostly A’s: Your buttons are getting a great work-out—and so are your blood pressure, migraine headaches, and stomach ulcers. People will make insensitive, unkind, miserable remarks; remember, their remarks are their responsibility. Your response is yours. And, when you match an unkind word with unkindness, you create regrets and remorse, two emotions that will eat at you. Work toward changing your reaction to a response. When we change our reactions to responses, we change our life.

If you scored mostly B’s:
You’re avoiding a reaction, but swallowing your pride in the process. You can stand up for herself, assert your needs, and do so in a calm, respectful manner. And, it’s important for your own well-being that you express your feelings, your wishes, your wants.

If you scored mostly C’s: Hurray! You’re in charge of your buttons. You stand up for yourself and, as a result, you protect your own sanity and health. When you’re in control of your own buttons, you leave room in your life for relationships that support and honor you.


Read more in our Holiday Survival Guide.

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3 thoughts on “Where’s Your Brother? He’s The One I Really Want To See…

  1. Avatar of Gail KrollGail Kroll

    You know, Denise? This blog actually brought me to tears. It is just too close to home. At least for now. My Mom’s death too imminent and my two sisters’ actions too close to those described – only differently. More hidden. They are not as blatant or as crass. Maybe that’s worse. Anyway? I’m crying now too so I had better get out of this blog. Or go to sleep? :) Maybe that’s a good idea!

    Reply
    • Avatar of DeniseDenise Post author

      Hi Gail–I totally understand! When your sisters push your buttons, hit the “pause” button. :) Know that the value of your heart can’t be measured. And, because you have a heart too big to measure, your sisters can’t hurt it.

      Reply
      • Gail Kroll

        You know Denise? I think this is one of your best blogs. It is so eloquent. To tell you the truth – and I think I’m right here? – there were no comments. I loved it! Really made me think. Happy Holidays!

        Reply

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