Get ahead of holiday blues by recognizing that unrealistic expectations are often the cause. Joy is internal, a way of experiencing the holidays (and the world) regardless of the behavior of others. If you find yourself feeling disappointed in the coming month, turn your focus to an activity that is only dependent on you. This can be delighting in a personal hobby, serving others who are disadvantaged, or concentrating on spirituality. This, of course, is easier said than done. Know that you are not alone if you feel let down and deflated once in while this Christmas season. It is a common feeling. But also know that you do not have to do everything.

Ask your family what kind of Christmas they really want. Their answers might surprise you. One year I asked each family member to tell me the ONE thing they wanted to do during the Christmas season, if they could only choose one. One of my daughters said she wanted to drive through the holiday light display that is hosted by our city’s electric company each year. That light display is the same exact thing every year and we have to sit in traffic to get to it. After seeing it for the prior 3 Christmases, I assumed my family had had enough of it and I’d had no intention of seeing it again. I did not know it meant so much to my daughter. And until we had this conversation, I also had no idea that there were some traditions that my family couldn’t care less about.

We now check in like this every year, so that every family member gets to enjoy at least the ONE thing on his or her list. This also helps teach the younger members of the family that some events are about others, and they have better attitudes about it because they know they each will have their “thing” as well.

(Image credit: Michelle Maria )

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