Until COVID-19 hit the world, this may have been your scenario at the holidays in years past.
You and your partner have been invited to both families for Christmas. It’s like this every year. Which family will you go to this year? And the driving, OMG just the thought of driving to this house and that house is exhausting. it’s just not fun and feels more like guilt and stress than a fun holiday.
What to Do?
The idea of saying no to both families riddles you with guilt. So, you do what you have done every year, you accept both invitations with dread. You know that this is going to stretch you thin. The stress of driving to one house for Christmas lunch and then driving more for Christmas dinner is just one big stress! But the guilt of saying no, cause you to do what your heart and body does not want to do just to keep the peace. So, what now?
For better or worse, 2020 has made it much easier to actually say No. For one thing, it’s probably best if you stay home in your “bubble” so as not to expose yourself, your kids or others to the virus that is still raging. And second, this becomes the perfect time to develop a new tradition.
Saying No Isn’t Easy…
For the majority of people, saying no is abhorrent moment. Most of us will accept the invitations and in some cases will call in sick rather than face the wrath and guilt tripping of a mother or mother-in-law. But is that good for you? Is that authentic? And what is this type of white lie doing to your psyche, your body?
I know how hard it is to say no, but it is a necessary muscle you must begin to flex. But here is a solution.
Rather than schlep yourself all over town to please your family, tell them that you have started a new family tradition with your partner. And that this year, due to COVID, you will be offering virtual Zoom sessions so that all of you can share some time together when it’s convenient. Then you have an open house from say Noon to 6PM (or whatever time works best for you) and that everyone is welcome to come (log in) when they can. In advance, you can even ask them to mail you a new holiday ornament to place on your tree as a way to add their personal touch to your home.
Creating a New Tradition
If you still feel a resistance to your solution, push back gently and explain that as you have gotten older and more mature you feel it is now time for you to create a new tradition. Tell them that you hope they will support you as you co-create this new way of celebrating the holidays with you.
If they still insist, then gently say, “NO, I love you, but I need you to really respect my needs. And my needs right now are to cozy up with my little family, and have you come visit us this year via using the technology at hand. Let’s just try this and see how it goes. Then next year when things settle, and we know more, we can revisit how we can co-create some new holiday traditions.” Stay firm and do not budge. It’s up to what you say, but how you say it is important. Modulate your tone to a calm, relaxed level. That means as their push back stresses you out, do not hold your breath but inhale and exhale and then speak. Do not choke now. You’re making progress.
Don’t Back Down!
They may grumble but do not back down. This is your life, your memories you are looking to co-create with your partner and if driving all over the place to please both your parents fills you with dread, then honor that and shift to a new way of expressing your holiday traditions by doing it your way.
Once you learn how to say no to your parents, imagine how good you get at creating new boundaries with friends, siblings and even your boss.
Saying NO, is not only a necessary path to honoring your needs but falls under the self-care category that will create within you a new feeling of empowerment. Saying No is a gift, not only to yourself, but to those who receive it. Imagine the authentic gift when you do say yes with a free and open heart that is excited by the yes you genuinely feel.
I wish you an amazing 2021 as you navigate the beautiful journey of living your life on your terms.