The holidays are almost here. For many people, the holiday season is an exciting time full of possibilities and celebrations. But for many, holidays are a reminder of difficult times. Still others look forward to their normal traditions, only to be derailed by unexpected circumstances life throws their way.
If you find yourself facing down a holiday season that looks nothing like your normal, festive routine, there are some things you and your spouse can do to make it happy and enjoyable for everyone. Let’s dive in.
1. Take stock of your usual holiday traditions.
Many of us fall into predictable patterns for our everyday lives, and the holidays are no exception. Holidays are special occasions that fall outside our daily routine, but we still have traditions we like to repeat with friends and family, year over year. Those traditions become the highlight of our year, in many cases.
Occasionally, we face a holiday season that forces us to break those familiar and comforting traditions. That might mean missing out on events that mean a lot to us. It might also mean we can’t visit family the way we’ve come to expect.
If you’re staring down holidays that break the norm, it’s important to decide how you’re going to handle them. Carefully choose the traditions you can participate in this year, then set aside any that you can’t accommodate. If you won’t be able to uphold a family holiday tradition this year, see if you can find ways to adapt it to the change.
2. Set realistic expectations.
If you’re facing an unusual holiday season due to illness, injury, financial hardship, or loss, it’s important to carefully set your expectations for the season before it arrives. Often, it’s the disappointment of unmet expectations that makes it hard for us to adapt to changing circumstances. If you know this year is going to be different, start setting your expectations for that change as early as possible.
The sooner you and your spouse are able to accept what’s going to change this year, the sooner you can get creative about how you want to approach it. One important thing to keep in mind is not to compare this year to past years. That’s going to be difficult, but it will also help you set your perspective going forward.
3. Keep your priorities front and center.
Sure, the holidays might be different this year, and that’s not easy. The main thing is to keep your priorities front and center. Remember the importance of the season we’re about to enter. Family and friends are treasured people in our lives, and our relationships are more valuable than any party or potluck dinner. Any time you start to dwell on your disappointment, remember what’s more important to you.
4. Focus on gratitude.
Practicing daily gratitude will help you and your spouse as you navigate this unusual season. Lean on one another and help each other express all the things you’re thankful for. If you want, you can even start gratitude journals together. If you have children, get them in on the practice. You’ll be surprised at the power being thankful holds.
5. Enjoy being together.
Spend time enjoying each other’s company this holiday season. If you’re slowing down from the normal end-of-year rush, then cherish that extra time together. This season could bring you a unique opportunity to reconnect with one another.
6. Set new traditions.
When something shakes up your normal routine, consider creating new traditions. These could look wildly different from your usual holidays. Sometimes, though, a change is exactly what you need. You could cook a new dinner or dessert, make ornaments for your tree together, or watch a new holiday movie as a family.
7. Create something to look forward to.
The first step to reimagining an unexpected season is to accept it, then work to reinvent it. Once you’ve accepted what you’re facing this season, you can free up the energy to get creative. What’s something you and your spouse can look forward to this year? If you don’t know, sit down together and talk about what that might look like. Then, make plans you can get excited about as the holidays approach.
Need some extra inspiration this holiday season?
If you and your spouse are planning some quality time together during the holidays, why not try out a few conversation starters to keep communication flowing? Our book, Love Talk Starters, contains 275 to keep you chatting and learning about one another. You can pick up your copy here.
Have you been through an unusual or difficult holiday season that upended your normal plans? How did you handle it? If you’re facing the same this year, do you have a plan? Let us know in the comments!