Not only are the holidays festive, inviting, warm, fun, chock full o' memories and reminiscing, delicious, heady and exciting, they are also full of--most years--some amount of drama.
The dark side of the holidays is no joking matter. Heart attack statistics inform us that the stress of confronting loss, family that was once around and no longer is, in-laws, out-laws, exes, siblings, siblings' spouses and significant others, step- parents, grandparents, great-aunts, half-sisters and whole brothers, combined with debt and alcohol, judgment and disappointment, travel, and scheduling can really take its toll.
My only goal this year, the motto I resolved to stick by and shamelessly advertised, was "Drama Free Christmas." This year, along with sticking to a budget I could afford, I was committed to reducing and even eliminating the drama in my holiday experience, which meant a bunch of things:
1 - no overspending
2 - little or no tension about the arrivals, departures or decisions made by others which are, and have always been, beyond my control.
3 - avoiding gossip or even sharing a tender "negative bonding moment" by not engaging in idle banter about so-an-so's dress, jacket, boyfriend, girlfriend, spending or dietary habits, drinking capacity or karaoke crack-up.
4 - avoiding too much heartfelt conversation. This one is tricky. But in my experience with holiday drama, a lovely, emotional conversation somehow often ends up on a road not unlike the rocky twisting mountain roads of the Irish cliffs during the holiday season. One moment you're admiring the gorgeous scenery and the next you're realizing you never learned how to drive on the wrong side of the car and you're dangerously close to actually losing your life down the mountain. "Sharing and Caring" can morph into "Staring and Overbearing" in the alternate looking-glass universe of the holiday season.
Finally, not to be Stepford-Robotic or anything, but faking it 'til you make it really is the best bet during these times.