Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Families At The Holidays

Nothing seems to stir more passion in the people I talk with lately than their feelings about having to spend time with their family or their in-laws during this holiday season.

Many conversations in the last week involve intense emotions about folks upcoming travel plans to get somewhere for Christmas, or the pending invasion of their home by out of town guests. Even those who do not need to cross vast distances, since family members live nearby, are super charged (positively or negatively) about their obligations.

One guy passionately told me about how they have to drive 400 miles before Christmas to visit his in-laws, then will return to Austin for Christmas Eve so that his son can be at home for Santa's arrival, only to drive 300 miles again on the 26th to see his parents and siblings. He is passionately frustrated by this plan, but the family members on both sides are passionate about giving them guilt for not making these long treks. He really wants to stay at home and enjoy a few days off from work with his wife and son, but instead this annual ritual has him hating everything about the season.

Another friend shared how excited he was about flying to Michigan to spend five days with his wife's family. Apparently she is the youngest of five children and every year they all gather at her parents home for four nights of celebration of Christmas. He beams when he talks about how much he enjoys these trips and longs for his two children to experience the time with their cousins. Apparently his in-laws have fourteen grandchildren ranging from age 26 to 6 and this makes 28 people for Christmas dinner. He says this time with his wife's family is the highlight of the year. The love and respect that these people have for each other annually amazes him and he is excited about the season. He is thrilled that his kids get to experience such a positive experience.

One woman told me how no matter what she does at Christmas, she cannot please her family. Regardless of what she cooks to bring to her family gathering, her mother or older sister will find fault with her efforts. Her clothes, weight and lack of a husband will be the table topics. She passionately despises the way she is treated and is dreading the next few days. All she wants for Christmas is the people in her life to celebrate the positive and love one another, but at 44 years old she knows it will not change.

How about your family plans for this holiday season? Is there someone in your clan that gets you all riled up and makes you go nuts? Is seeing your family exciting? Seems everyone has an opinion one way or the other.

Sorry, I don't have a solution for dealing with family obligations for Christmas. Just make sure you are not the one in your family who is being critical of others, finding fault or making situations difficult / uncomfortable. If you are not the person in your family that is causing the problems, that is all you can do. Instead, be the person who celebrates the passion for those around you. Identify what makes your family members spectacular as an individual and only focus on those qualities...regardless of how they behave.

I would welcome your stories and comments on what makes you passionate about seeing family over the holidays.

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!


Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh my God. Reading this post got me passionate.

My sister drives me crazy as she does not believe in religion but is hosting a large party for the holiday. She does not teach her son about Jesus, and will not join the rest of the family at our church services (which makes mom cry), but is very focused on what time we will opening gifts.

It is the same drama every year.

Thanks for this post, and have a Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

A good thing for people to ask themselves when spending time with family at the holidays is "Am I the person who lifts my family up, encourages each person to excel, and goes along with the flow for the good of the whole family? OR....Am I a premadonna who makes others cater to my needs while looking for fault in everyone else? Do I gossip and complain about some of my family members with others? Am I the one everyone looks forward to seeing each year at the holidays?

The answer to the above, if you are really honest, will make a difference in how you behave over the next few days.

Years ago I hated family gatherings. Then I started helping out more and praising everyone in my family. Guess what, I enjoy them because they enjoy me. Turns out I was the pain in the butt for decades and I just never knew how much I was bringing everyone else down. Now I know that I bring them up to higher levels because I will not behave in any other manner.

Mary Pat

Tom Magness said...

I hate that I will eat a ton and watch a lot of football at my in-laws house! They are awesome cooks and such giving people. My challenge is to not gain 50 pounds during our stay with them! Thankfully I am as passionate about running and working I am about food and football! Hooah!

Chris Hyde said...

This is the first Christmas that I will have with my parents in many years. Now that they live near us, it will be interesting to celebrate holidays together again. This will also be the first holiday that includes both my parents and my in-laws. So it will be fun to have everyone together. I know my kids have missed out on not having my parents around for many years so it will be good to have them to participate in the traditions that we forged while not living near them!

Anonymous said...

Last night at Christmas Eve Dinner my dad made everyone anonymously write down one thing they deeply admire about each other person in the family.

Then after dinner over some Baileys and Coffees he read all the comments to the whole room. Everyone cried to hear the love expressed in this way.

My family is not touchy feely, and I had not looked forward to seeing everyone. I had laughed when I read this blog post on Sunday because....but Dad's "game" was amazing.

I think people tell friends about how they feel, but forget to tell family how wonderful they are sometimes.

Merry Christmas.