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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
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Yes, it is Possible to Have a Happy Holiday!

November 2005


The holidays are a wonderful time of year. Hanging out with the family. Enjoying games and singing together. Cooking with everyone in the kitchen. Ahhh, wonderful. But wait, that sounds more like a Hallmark commercial than anyone’s real life.

The reality for most of is that we have more to do than time in which to do it. We don’t want everyone in the kitchen because they get in our way. We don’t want to hang out with the family because we don’t really like them that much. And every time we play a game, someone gets in a fight.

So, the goal is to let go of those expectations of what the holidays “should” be like and do what we can to make the holidays a healthy, happy time. You are not going to have a Hallmark holiday. No one does. It is not possible unless you have a script to follow and can re-shoot the scene if someone messes up. Look at whom you are spending the holidays with. If Aunt Cindy has not said anything nice to Grandpa in twenty years, do not expect that this year will be any different. If Uncle Joe always gets drunk, assume that it will be the same this year.

So, once you have reasonable expectations, you need to arrange the holiday so that you get your needs get met. If you feel more in the holiday spirit with your friends, than your relatives, than be sure to spend time with those friends. If you can only handle being with your family for a certain amount of time, then arrange to leave after that time is left. If your family gets along better with structure than arrange to watch a holiday movie together.

Decide what makes it the holidays for you and then do it, being aware of who the people are in your life and what they are capable of doing. Make sure that you get your needs met in a healthy way. And enjoy your holidays!


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