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Now is the time to decide to be proactive instead of reactive. Decide how you would like to spend Christmas. How much do you want to spend? How do you want to celebrate this year? You may not get your family to agree with you that you need to cut down on presents, etc. It is not necessary to have a conversation with anyone, or to get anyone else to “buy in” to your ideas. But instead of trying to “keep up” with other people’s ideas of how you should celebrate Christmas, decide for yourself. Yes, there will be a reaction, especially if you change the status quo. But that’s ok. You really don’t need anyone else’s approval or support. You just need to be happy with your own plan. If you feel like you are a slave to other people’s wishes, ask yourself if there is really any way to “make everyone happy” this year. Is it even possible to do that? If you have two sets of divorced grandparents, is it possible to be in 4 places at once? No, it is not. Do what you think is right for you and give up trying to make people happy. Is it possible to spend enough on presents to “prove your love”? If not, then decide what your spending limit is based on your real budget. There is no reason to go into debt.

Think about how you spent Christmas last year. Are there any changes you’d like to make for this year? You are allowed to do that! My general advice is to limit your activities and scale down your expectations. Christmas is the time of year when people get sick and fall apart. If your life has been difficult, it may feel even more so at Christmas. Treat yourself with love and kindness, and don’t expect too much from yourself. Schedule in some time to pamper yourself and do what would make you feel better. Don’t be afraid of “missing out” on all the fun.

When your family gets upset with you, ask yourself if they got upset with you last year. Yeah, they probably did. Did you kill yourself last year trying to please everyone? Did it work? This year, don’t do what doesn’t work. Take care of yourself and find your own joy. Respecting your own boundaries and wishes doesn’t mean you don’t love people. It means you accept your limits (and the limits of other people.)

Repeat after me:

  • I can decide how I want to spend Christmas.
  • I can set my own

I do not need anyone else’s support or approval.