Happy Holidays or not?????


Yup, the American holiday season is creeping up on us so, I thought I would get this post up before all of us are waist high in the season.  Where has this year gone? My paternal grandmother used to always tell me the older you get the faster time flies. Her theory which I believe, is that as we age, time seems to go faster since more of it is behind us than ahead of us.

Another reason for this post, is a conversation I had with a client a few days ago, regarding this issue. My client shared with me that she had noticed in both her support group and herself, the everyone was feeling down in the dumps, depressed and extremely emotional.  she further stated that she was especially feeling emotional & raw, plus she had just realized that morning that November had arrived.

I agree with her, that for many Americans the time frame between the beginning of November and the first part of January is rough on many levels. Studies and my own experiences both professionally and personally show this to be true as well.

Contary to the holidays movies, most Americans don’t have that ideal/Hollywood fantasy life to begin with, much less so when the holidays roll around. Along with the pressure to be the perfect host/hostess, attend every event, keep that happy face/persona and enjoy every moment is a lot to expect of anyone. I’m tired already, how about you?

For those who are struggling with mental or physical issues, financial or family  issues the holidays add extra stressors. Besides the increase in depression during the holidays, is the occurrence of holiday fatigue and it isn’t just with children, adults often have this as well. We can recognize holiday fatigue in kids as easily upset, extra crying/tantrums and just not being themselves. Actually, it’s not that much different in adults, we have just been taught how to mask it. But should we just mask it, fake it till the holidays are over or acknowledge these issues?

I’ve always held to the belief that if you need a break, plan to have some space & time to yourself, to both regroup and rest. There’s nothing wrong with doing this and remembering to take care of yourself.  I discuss the importance of self care in my blog post, “Where are you on your list?”  While self care is important all year round, it is especially important during stressful times in our lives including the holidays.

Also, think about how many & which holiday events & activities are important to you. Do you really need to accept every invite that you are invited? I know it may be tough to turn down some of them, but for our own mental and physical health it may be something to consider. Think of alternative plans & activities, including staying at home in your pjs. Down time can be considered an alternative plan or activity.

A prior boss who I worked for about 20 yrs ago, used to rotate holidays. For example, she & her husband would spend Thanksgiving one year with family and the next year by themselves and do a similar rotation with other holidays. They would even rotate the year they were participating in a holiday with family, hosting duties as well. Sometimes we forget the host/hostess might need a break as well.

Even rotating which events and activities that you attend every year, can also be both a great stress reliever and make the holiday season more relaxed & enjoyable. For example maybe attend Joe’s party this year, skip Susie’s & next year host to give both Jo & Susie a much needed break. The following year you might feel more up to attending both or attend Susie’s event. I’ve known those who do the hosting can easily get caught up in wishing to please everyone & invite one and all to the event. Tho, they are secretly hoping, not everyone shows. I’ll admit that I have done this myself. I think we all have from time to time.

A favorite way to spend the holidays for me is to travel. I LOVE going on vacation during holidays breaks such as Thanksgiving or X-mas. My family often used to this when I was a child & it could be quite fun. It can definitely be an alternative way to enjoy the holidays without the pressures of the holidays.

Depite the pressures and stress of the holidays, now is the time to start thinking about how you want to spend the season. Since my husband & I did lots of entertaining during the holidays last year, we are planning a low key and much needed relaxing season this year. Feel free to share your ideas and thoughts.






One question you should never ask your kids.


Since the holiday season has started,  I felt it was time for this post. Hopefully, this is more of a generational question that is working it’s way out of our society I hope,  but in case it isn’t, no time like the present!

This is an occasional issue that my clients & friends in their mid-forties and up will mention, I’ve rarely heard it from younger people, that dreaded question that gets asked by parents, especially moms.

“I am/was a good parent, right?” How many people just cringed reading these words? I know I did, just writing them.

For many of us, answering that question involves one of three responses:

1. Lie- since telling the truth, would drag up more issues and hurt feelings than you or the person asking the question honestly want to deal with and the possible questions that may follow.

2. Tell the truth-if you are lucky you had/have good parents and being honest can be a positive outcome for both of you.

3. Avoid answering the question-which can be a safe alternative if you don’t want to lie and the truth may not always set you free.

Yes, I have had to deal with that question about ten years ago with my own mom and when she asked, it caught me off guard.  My relationship with my parents has always been rocky, we aren’t close and never will have that type of  relationship. What caught me off guard wasn’ t necessarily the question itself but a conversation I had with one of my clients earlier that week. Our conversation was about this very same question and how to deal with handling your answer and response.

The previous weekend my client had a visit with their mom and out of the blue, the question was asked. Never close to their mother, the awkwardness of both the question and how to answer, along with the whole uncomfortableness of the situation, had unsettled my client. Being embarrassed, they hesitated to answer and then stated, ” yes, you were a good mom.”

As the client told me about the incident, they further stated that they were bothered by the whole encounter, since they lied but also knew their mom couldn’t handle the truth and didn’t want to deal with the hurt feelings and fallout from their siblings if the truth had been stated.

Another issue that had my client uncomfortable, was the why this question would ever be asked in the first place? Which is a very good question. My only answers were that mom’s self esteem was lacking/still not a reason to ASK this question or/and possibly playing the guilt trip game (see my prior post “Guilt is not an emotion”).

The lies that we sometimes tell to spare family whether we are close to them or not is always a slippery slope. Do I tell the truth to get it off my chest? Do I lie to spare myself  & the person asking the question an answer that probably isn’t pretty? Along with the fallout from others when it is found out what was said, no matter how you choose to answer this question. Or do I choose to refuse to answer the question, a third choice that is as valid as the first two options.

The other issue that this brings to the forefront is the question itself. Healthy self esteem is based on your own perception of self and should never defined by others in your life. Least all, putting that burden on your children, no matter their age & seeking validation where it shouldn’t be sought.

Healthy self esteem is based on a belief in oneself. Positive kudos from others is icing on the cake. But we should never go seeking it out from friends, families and others. It’s a difficult and often an unfair position that we put others in and once put in that spot it can change relationships forever. You may get lucky and get a positive response, but there are never any guarantees. I often tell people, if you ask a question, you must be prepared for the answer no matter what you will hear and be willing to accept what is said.

So, how did I respond to my mom? I was very shocked and angered by the question, to say the least. I stood there for a moment, with a shocked look on my face and walked away. Some issues are best left alone and for me that ship had sailed many decades ago. People might say I took the cowards way out, but some conversations are just not worth having or revisiting.