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Weekly Wisdom 12-14-2015

 

December 14, 2015

I found this yesterday in the Seattle Times.  It is one of those write-in columns, by a syndicated columnist named Carolyn Hax.  It is a reminder that not everyone is happy during the holidays.  According to WebMD, “Feeling down during the holidays can be tough, especially since you seem so out of step with the world. Everyone else seems to be beaming, ruddy-cheeked, bursting with holiday spirit. You’re feeling wretched and exhausted.  But here’s something to cheer you up the next time you’re stuck in a room of revelers at a holiday party: Plenty of them are probably unhappy, too.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEAR CAROLYN,

I hate Christmas.  I hate the expectations: put on the family dinner because my mother’s health doesn’t allow her to do it anymore.  Watching her and her husband drink too much.  Figure out how much money to give the kids because they don’t want presents, only money.
I hate people asking me what I want and never listening.  I know it’s the thought that counts, but, I’ve been asking for the same thing for 15 years.
The pleas from charities everywhere I go.  I give plenty.
My sister, conveniently living six hours away, who won’t travel because her husband HAS to be home on Christmas, telling me how I should do it.
My husband loving to bake but even when he thinks he’s done a good job cleaning up, leaving a huge mess for me.
Being forced to participate in office baked goods for the bosses.
Gifts for a stepdaughter I never see and who doesn’t like me.
Going out to eat is not an option as “it’s not our tradition” and too expensive.  How do I survive it without crying every day?

--- The Weeping Christmas Tree
Take care of yourself.
Happy Holidays!

DEAR WEEPING CHRISTMAS TREE:

Expectations lurk behind every gap between desire and reality; they’re the engine of stress and disappointment.  You’ve invested yourself heavily on the desire side of that pair, pushing aside everything you need, care about and believe to try to give others what they want.

It’s not working, and not just because you’re an advent calendar of tears.  Your mother and her husband aren’t at peace or they wouldn’t need to medicate themselves silly, and if your sister felt good she’d be at your side instead of up in your grill.
The answer is to stop chasing desire and start embracing reality.  Start asking yourself: What is and isn’t possible to change?

And then: What is and isn’t worth changing?
Ultimately you have to answer these based on your own truths and tolerances:

• You can’t change your mother’s expectations, but you can change whether or how you meet them.
• You can’t change what you can afford, but you can change how you spend…streamline the menu.
• You can’t change your sister’s urge to interfere, but you can calming state if she feels strongly about how things are done, then she’ welcome to host Christmas herself.
• You can’t prevent holiday chariteering, but you can choose to carry a stack of $1 bills wherever you go, and, for very little money, channel a morning after Scrooge.
• You can’t change what people give you, but you can change what you hope for.
• You can’t make your husband not bake or understand what “clean” means, but you can ask him to bake for your bosses, right?

Pour yourself something toasty and write your To-Quit List, topped by “Quit seeing others’ expectations as your responsibility.”

 

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