For many people, the holiday season truly is “the most wonderful time of the year,” and for many others, this is an ideal they struggle to achieve. Whether you grew up with great holiday memories, struggling to recreate those experiences as an adult, or you grew up with terrible memories, now attempting to give your new family the opposite, it is not an easy task to achieve family unity and joy during the holiday season. Let’s examine some common obstacles and how to work to overcome them.
It is a common tendency in relationships to resolve issues by ignoring them. Doing so results in the buildup of pain and irritation. This is similar to an untreated infection in the body. Let’s say you fall and scrape your knee, and many unsavory particles make their way deep into your tissue, and instead of cleaning it out, you simply put a bandage over it and ignore it. Over time, infection sets in, and touch becomes sensitive. Eventually, activities as simple as walking will become very difficult, if not impossible. In relationships, the unresolved issues are the infection. Any attempt to discuss those issues brings pain, and any attempt to draw closer together becomes difficult, and perhaps even impossible while the infection in the relationship remains. In these cases, it is recommended to seek relationship counseling. A qualified relationship counselor is skilled in healing conflict, just as a qualified physician in skilled in treating an infection. Resolving the issues removes the barriers to unity and joy in the relationship.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are so deeply loved by many people that any change to these holidays are often seen as wrong, or even heretical. Instead of bickering about which family tradition is correct and which is a mockery, it is better to understand that with the creation of a new family must come the creation of new and unique traditions. Any attempts to recreate past traditions will ultimately end in frustration since there are different people involved, and it is a different generation. Creating a new culture, your family’s culture, the culture your children will forever remember, is a wonderful and rewarding endeavor that has the power to unify the family in a lasting way. This takes time, patience, and the consideration of new ideas. Many families can accomplish this on their own, but if those attempts fail, relationship counseling can be a wonderful tool to help build a strong, unified family culture.
Time is currency in the world today, and anything we desire requires a payment. People have named our age the “information age.” It is called this because we can now access nearly any information we desire within seconds on a small rectangular device we carry everywhere we go. More than anytime in recorded history, we can manage most of our affairs without getting out of bed. We can pay bills, shop, connect with people, go to school, make money, watch movies, file a lawsuit, renew a prescription, all without even standing up. There is one thing, however, that we cannot do from this small rectangular device, and that is to build strong, healthy relationships. This requires time, time spent engaged with people, time not spent staring at a screen. We can’t approach a relationship the way we monitor social media. The time required to build strong, healthy relationships is not small; it is substantial. Time is currency, and if we don’t pay the full price, the result is like the cheap shirt we buy at the discount store that shows its first tear two weeks after buying it. On the other hand, if we spend substantial time together as a family, and that time is quality, it will be an investment that will pay us back with love and joy for years to come. In summary, the holiday season can be a wonderful time to build strong, healthy relationships if we resolve buried issues, if we create new traditions together, and if we spend large amounts of quality time together. If these attempts fail for any reason, seek a qualified relationship counselor who can help you and your family succeed.