holiday greeneryLet’s face it, this can be a tough time of year. But, it definitely doesn’t need to be.

As I think back, I have a brain and heart full of truly happy holiday memories that fill me with nostalgia. But I have also encountered numerous painful and disappointing holiday memories as well. I’ve had Christmases where dozens of us celebrated happily under one roof. And I’ve also experienced Christmases where people couldn’t seem to put their differences aside. My mother, sister, and I have had some of our happiest moments during the holidays. We have also had some of our biggest arguments. My husband’s family used to be a cohesive unit of 50 at the holidays. For many reasons, they are now small armies setting up camps in their own corners.

As a kid, my family was extremely close in proximity, but never close personally. My mother’s side of the family was never keen on my father’s side of the family, and vice versa. So, each year, it was like Sophie’s Choice. We could never all be together, so which side of the family were we going to see? There were years where adult squabbles prevented us from seeing either side. All of those fractures and fissures eventually created riffs so large that they couldn’t be repaired. Tragic.

Fast forward, and I now have a family of my own where I have a very strong desire to do things differently. Despite my upbringing, my biggest wish is to have large, peaceful gatherings of relatives and friends at the holidays where my kids can see their cousins and the B.S. is kept to a minimum (*it’s a wish, not always a reality). Our new traditions are born out of what’s best for the kids and what brings us the greatest amount of peace. However, because my husband and I each have a side of the family, navigating through the holidays can be still challenging. We give tremendous consideration to the messages we are sending our children and we make the best of it. It’s not always perfect, but we strive for it to be the best it can possibly be. Let’s face it, you can do your best to accommodate and stay out of the fray, but sometimes you will still be collateral damage in someone else’s holiday soap opera.

Because I know that the stress level can inevitably rise during this time of year, I want to help you prevent the water from boiling. I want you to approach the holidays in a heart-centered cool, calm, collected manner. It’s in everyone’s best interest, so take a few deep breaths and download my Holiday Bill of Rights 2013.

In the spirit of fewer grudges, less scorekeeping, reduced stress, increased gratitude, give and take, and peaceful interactions….wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along? 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah! And may you remember on Black Friday that the holidays are about giving…not maiming someone in Aisle 16 over the last XBox One.