Many people don’t actually have a Norman Rockwell family (and if you do, keep doing what you’re doing); many families are dysfunctional, making the holidays even more difficult. You can work on your family issues in the year to come. You’ll have to do work and learn things to change that. But it’s possible.
Some of the stresses may be:
Money (i.e., a budget for gifts)
Alcohol (dealing with relatives who drink too much and do inappropriate things)
In-laws (if your beloved has a hard time with your parent, it’s up to you to intervene—AND not make your partner look like the bad guy. You can go sit between them for example. Don’t let your elders take over your home or parenting.)
Introducing your beloved to your family (only you know what is normal in your family. I can guarantee you it will not be normal to anyone else. Stay by his/her side and help integrate him/her into your family)
Travel (different agendas, special needs such as food or unscented bedding, travel, change in routine, etc. Be kind.)
Parties (one of you is an extrovert and the other is an introvert. If so, find a good spot for the introvert to settle where people will come by to say hello. The extrovert mingles and regularly comes back to check in with the introvert and maybe brings people over to chat as well. Don’t go to a party and separate until it’s over)
Extra work (wrapping gifts, decorating, clean up from more people around. Share this equally or hire help so no one gets overwhelmed. Ask people staying with you or coming for meals to help, too)
Things going awry (it will happen. Remember you’re lucky to be alive in this beautiful place with people you love. The rest is just an adventure. Let go of having anything be perfect; perfect doesn’t exist)
Health challenges (take care of yourselves to avoid this as much as possible; for the rest, remember you’re in it together and do what’s necessary and cut out the rest)
Here are a couple more ideas:
Make use of your family being around to get more couple time alone. Leave your kids with your parents or siblings and go away overnight for a romantic getaway.
Plan a holiday recovery getaway.
Get a babysitter and go do some mad thing that you used to do when you were first dating.
Let yourself enjoy the holidays: family and friends, music, lights and decorations.
Help others this season. There are many in need this year. Giving is fulfilling too.
Lastly, be kind: to yourself, everyone around you, to other drivers, people working in stores where you shop . . .
Happy holidays (of all and any kind you celebrate) from Connect2/Silicon Valley Couples.