The holidays are not a magical wand to transform families.
Holiday expectations can get us in trouble during the holiday season. Why is it that we somehow still hang onto the vision that we can suddenly transform the family into what we want during the holidays and all those old wounds, stories, and disappointments will shrink away when the bells start ringing and Santa’s sleigh starts flying? The sparkle of the season adorned with gorgeous music, spirituality, bright lights and massive decorations has a way of tricking us into thinking anything is possible.
What is not possible though is changing other people, and especially our families. We know we can’t do therapy on our own families even if we have the experience and wisdom to do so. But give us the holidays and we will suddenly see our co-dependent selves’ rise to the occasion. We begin to hope and wish that this year will be different and maybe we can change things. This is the most common and painful mistake I see people make during the holiday season. We all have that longing and desire for closeness and we love seeing families together enjoying their wonderful traditions. We want this to be us! But when it’s not, we suffer with angst and disappointment.
But, what if you come from a family with some dysfunction? And who doesn’t? What to do? Can you change it? Do those strained relationships become reformed because we bought lovely gifts and Silent Night is playing softly in the background? Can our own power and love change it just this year or this season? Maybe if we are just a little nicer, or a little better in some way, things will be different.