Every year I dread Christmas. Both my parents and my husband's are so demanding and outspoken. They tend to dictate what is going to happen, everything from arrival time to the brand of sherry to be used in the trifle. I bite my tongue and try to please because I don’t want to cause a fight, but I’m fuming inside. I’m afraid a time will come when I erupt. I should say something but I’m not very good at standing up for myself and they are such unreasonable people. Any suggestions?
Dear Christmas Dreader
Family get-togethers can be lots of fun but also very stressful, especially at Christmas. Fortunately there are a few things you can try that may help: involve everyone in the planning, whether it’s making desert or bringing drinks and games and that way, they can use any sherry they like. People want to be included as it makes them feel valued.
Many parents still treat us like children even though we are adults, but we can set limits. Trying to please everyone rarely works. The first person to approach is your husband. He needs to know how you feel and I suspect he may share some of your views. You both need to believe that you’re a team and you have a right to call some of the shots.
It might be best to announce any changes in plans early, making it clear that it’s a joint decision. You could say something like, "we have decided this year ........." If it’s really difficult to face, perhaps you could agree to some small changes rather than challenge the whole tradition. You need to be able to count on each other and be a united front. I wish you luck and a very Happy Christmas and Wonderful New Year.