Holiday Stress: Beating the Pressure to Make It Perfect


Holiday Stress: Beating the Pressure to Make It Perfect

Perfect-Holiday-Table Leave the perfect holidays for magazine covers and television shows. You can have a wonderfully imperfect holiday.

You want it to be nice, unforgettable, special, as close to perfect as possible. Surely, there can’t be that many more left for both of you to enjoy.

But, the pressure to make it perfect can ruin any well-intentioned holiday, be it Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas. And, the pressure intensifies because of those thoughts in the back of your head: How many more Father's Days will we have with Dad (or your husband)?

The pressure to make the day perfect heats up to Inferno level if you have siblings or other family members who seem indifferent to the day and its importance. Maybe your older sister still harbors some unexplained resentment toward you—which she takes out on your mom. Maybe your brother just doesn’t get it—so he doesn’t bother to call or send a card. When you know others won’t step up to the plate, the pressure to hit a home run and create a memorable day can almost paralyze you.

How do you make these holidays special, given their inherent challenges?

1. Keep in mind that you control yourself—and no one else. What’s important is that you share your feelings with your caree, that you let her know how important she is, even if other family members can’t or won’t.

2. You can’t make up for your others’ lack of awareness about your caree’s illness or disease process, so don’t even try. Your siblings or other relatives make their own decisions about how they handle your caree’s declining health—and they have to live with the consequences of those decisions.

3. Bad-mouthing only makes you look bad. Wow, is it tempting to share a few choice words about your siblings or other family members to your caree. Vent in your diary, to your spouse, to your hedge of bushes in the backyard--but not to your caree.

4. Keep the day simple. Try to create new rituals that reflect your energy level (and your caree’s). Perhaps your caree would enjoy a trip to the cemetery with a stop for ice cream on the way home. Or, maybe lunch after church service would be a special treat. Or, maybe just take a simple break from your roles for a few moments (no thoughts of your family caregiver—caree relationship) to relate as two people who enjoy each other’s company.

5. Create memories for both of you. Take photos—and then take out old photos for reminiscing.

6. Live in the moment, just for the day. Don’t worry about tomorrow—those problems will come soon enough.

7. Take the high road, don’t get drawn into petty squabbles with other family members. Don’t worry about proving your point at all costs. Live your beliefs—that’s the best way to prove your point.

8. Only take on the responsibilities that are yours. You can make a great casserole, set a mean table, but if your caree (and/or other family members) choose to be unhappy, then they've made their choice. Put your energy in creating joyful moments for you.

9. Be sure the day also includes your own special rituals—with your children, your spouse, your grandchildren.

10. Honor your role as family caregiver for five minutes: Give thanks for your ability to give care, to have this experience, an experience which is given to only very special people.

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