Frightened by Empty Nest Holidays?
Our lunchtime conversation today turned to the fact that Halloween Day means the launch of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas movie season. Admittedly we were laughing at ourselves, as year after year we are drawn to those warm, fuzzy, predictable movies of the season. There is some comfort in watching holiday movies that embrace family values and spread the love and cheer of the season.
As we approach the holidays this year, I am gently reminded of how our family gatherings and traditions have changed over time. It is increasingly more challenging to coordinate work schedules, “in-law” holiday plans and generally to find a few moments where everyone can manage to spend time together under one roof. I am happiest and most fulfilled when surrounded by family, so it is a priority for me to help make these special family occasions happen.
Having a few years of “empty nest holidays” under my belt, here are five suggestions that I would like to share with you to make this season one of your best ever:
1. Start talking now. It isn’t too early to discuss the upcoming holiday schedule with your family. We all have expectations going into this time of year, and it’s important to get them out in the open. Figure out work schedules and conflicts in advance, in order to maximize family time.
2. Realize that things will not likely be the same as they have been in the past – and that’s okay! As difficult as it is to let go of past traditions, now may be a great time to develop new ones that will bring you joy for years to come.
3. Think about finding a way to serve others this holiday season. There is no experience more rewarding or fulfilling than helping others during this special time of the year. Give gifts to a family in need, serve in a soup kitchen, or offer to shop for a shut-in. You will be amazed how the holidays fall into place when you take the focus off of your own desires and place it on the happiness of others.
4. Re-evaluate all of those things that cause you stress during the holidays. Is there anything you can cut out this year? Maybe a supermarket meal as a shortcut, or sending fewer greeting cards? The goal is to turn the rat-race into a manageable pace this year.
5. Be flexible. This may be the most difficult of all, because we all have things that are very important to us at this time of year. It may mean that you celebrate Christmas on a day other than the 25th, or have to combine holidays and celebrate “ThanksChristmas” as our extended family does. With a bit of creativity you can figure out something special and unique.
So don’t let your empty nest turn into a haunted house this year. May the joy of Christmas past become the anticipation of wonderful Christmases yet to come.