62. Boundaries and Holidays
Happy holidays. The holidays are upon us, my friends. Are you ready? Are you ready for the holidays? I’m not talking about decorations, travel plans or presence. I’m talking about boundaries. Have you decided what’s okay for you and not okay for you? So that you can enjoy your holidays.
I wrote a little holiday jingle for you about boundaries and holidays, and it goes a little something like this: Pull out the holly, put up the tree before my family shows up. Things must be perfect. I have been people pleasing, wishing I’d spoke up now. For we need a little boundaries, right this very minute. If we don’t have boundaries, then we’ll have resentment, for we need a little boundaries, right this very minute, we get together for a reason. Let’s enjoy this holiday season. For, we need a little boundaries now.
Oh, holidays can be difficult. Most of us have had good holidays and hard holidays. Some of us are separated from our loved ones due to physical distance, emotional distance, or even death, and the holidays can remind us of our grief or loneliness. Sometimes holidays include feelings of scarcity around our resources, like time or finances. If we’re not able to give as much as we would like. Some of us have high holiday expectations and then feel low disappointment when expectations are not met.
Some of us stress over trying to get everything done on time and trying to make it perfect for everyone else. There are a variety of reasons that holidays can be hard. Some of these hard things like family separation, grief, and loss, or limited resources are beyond our control, and I encourage you to have compassion for those things. Compassion for yourself if you’re the one experiencing difficult times, and compassion for those who are.
Now, let’s talk about the hard things that we do have control over, like our expectations and our people pleasing. If your holiday stress is about doing all the things out of obligation and trying to make everybody happy, then you need boundaries. You need boundaries to say yes to the holiday traditions and activities that you want to do and to say no to the ones that you do not want to do. You need boundaries to manage your expectations. You need boundaries to be present with loved ones in meaningful ways instead of out of obligation. You need boundaries to show up from a place of love and enjoy the holidays that you’re trying to celebrate.
So how do we do this? Listen up, I’ll tell you. The first step is to clarify your intention. What holiday do you wanna celebrate and why? This could sound something like, I wanna celebrate Thanksgiving because I value gratitude, and community. Or I wanna celebrate Christmas because I value generosity and giving. Perhaps it sounds like, I wanna celebrate New Year’s because I value growth and new beginnings. Maybe you wanna celebrate the holidays because you simply wanna connect the people that you love.
Or maybe you do not want to celebrate a holiday and you decide not to. That’s up to you. There’s no right or wrong reason to celebrate or not celebrate a holiday. However, I encourage you to be intentional about the holidays that you choose to celebrate and do it for reasons that align with your values.
Next, decide what is okay for you and not okay for you this holiday season. Seriously, you get to decide. If there’s one takeaway from this episode please let it be that you get to decide what you will and will not participate in this holiday season. This is your boundary. Deciding what you will and will not do is what empowers you to actually enjoy your holidays.
Here’s how we do it. Make a list with two columns. On the top of the column we write what’s okay for me this holiday or what I will participate in. On the top of the other column, we write what is not okay for me this holiday or what I will not participate in. Okay. Now we identify the parts of the holiday that you want to plan for. How about things like traditions and spiritual practices? Connections with people and community? Travel plans, food and eating practices, gift giving and spending? Time commitments? Or any other aspect of the holiday celebration.
As an example, I’m gonna share with you my boundaries for Christmas this year. Okay, here we go. What is okay for me is celebrating Christmas because I want to honor the birth of my Savior. I believe in Jesus Christ. I identify as a Christian and I value giving and redemption. What’s not okay for me would be focusing on materialism or commercialism during the Christmas holiday.
What is okay for me is showing up with love when it makes sense for me and my family. Choosing my commitments carefully and keeping the commitments that I make. It’s okay for me to attend things like church services and devotionals, and I will participate in caroling this year. What’s not okay for me would be attending everything that I’m invited for if it doesn’t make sense for me or my family participating in things from a place of guilt or obligation. Overcommitting or stressing out or people pleasing.
When it comes to how I spend my time, and especially my working and family time, this Christmas my children have a little over two weeks off of school for winter break, and so I’ve decided to work part-time during winter break. I’m going to work two days a week and I’m gonna spend three days a week with my family. So my little one is six years old, and I signed her up for a childcare program for two days a week during winter break. What would not be okay for me would be working full-time and working on the holidays.
Okay. When it comes to travel, this year I have decided to spend Christmas Eve with our extended family that lives close by and to spend Christmas Day at home with my kids and my immediate family. What’s not okay for me this year would be traveling out of state. Most of my family is in Florida, and I have traveled out of state in the past. But this year I decided to stay home in town because cost of flights, and we just traveled for Thanksgiving.
And when it comes to hosting, I am totally okay with hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas. I don’t usually feel great about hosting every holiday every year for big groups of people like extended family and friends. And when it comes to food, one thing I do enjoy and I want to do is baking with my girls. So we have a couple Christmas time dishes that we like to make, like a chocolate bar pie and a sweet potato casserole. And so I’m looking forward to that. And I’m okay with sharing responsibility for holiday meals. I like to bring food to holiday gatherings, but I’m not okay with preparing entire holiday meals for big groups of people or expecting others to prepare big holiday meals for me.
I’m also not okay with binging on sugar and baked goods through the holiday. When it comes to giving, I’m okay with like a gift exchange. So in my extended family, we have a large group of siblings and cousins and what we do that’s worked really well for us is a gift exchange every year. So that’s what I’m gonna do for extended family. And I also am okay with giving of my time or my resources or some kind of community service, like maybe we’ve adopted a child to give Christmas gifts to in the past and that works for me too. I would not be okay with purchasing individual gifts for extended family members or excessive spending around gift giving. So you get the idea.
This is an example of works for me for Christmas this year, and I wanna be clear that it’s not what is right or wrong. It’s not what you should do or not do. It’s just an example of how I decide what my boundaries are for this year, and I invite you to complete this exercise for yourself. If you need help with this exercise, then I invite you to sign up for free 30 minute coaching call. Go to my website and you can sign up there and I’d be happy to help you create a similar T chart that will help decide your boundaries. Whatever this list looks like for you, it will give you a clearer picture of what boundaries you wanna set and maintain throughout this holiday season. And the more boundaries you have, the less stress you will have and the more peace, joy, and connection this year. Happy holidays, friends. I hope that you are enjoying this holiday season.