Happy Holidays? You get to decide!


Dear Therese,

Well, it’s that time of year again.  The time of year that I start out with good intentions to be cheerful and helpful and not get upset by my husband’s family.  But Thanksgiving was a disaster, and I am so very worried that Christmas will be the same.

Here’s the thing.  Every year for the past 14 years it is the same story.  My husband’s sisters just let their mother do all of the work in the kitchen, and the fellas are off in the living room watching the football games, and I am the only one in the kitchen helping my mother-in-law!  The ladies are all drunk, and there is an inevitable fight that breaks out, and they accuse me of not joining in with the family.  I want to be part of my husband’s family, but how can I do this?

Not so jolly Joanna in Illinois.


Dear Joanna,

Boy, will a lot of people resonate with this one!

I am going to make the usual suggestions, like, can you alternate holidays, or find a way to limit your time at the event?  Have you tried actually asking your husband’s sisters, or mother, just what they think you could do to fit in better?  Sometimes communication does actually work, but we really don’t want to risk the status quo, (even though it sucks) being made worse…and we don’t like to acknowledge it, but even that is a choice.

Now I am going to ask a question.  Just how is this serving you?  What is it that you are getting from playing this little scene over and over?  Until you figure out what that might be, you may just keep on playing your role in perpetuity.   So, Joanna, do you enjoy being the “victim”?  Do you secretly enjoy being “superior”?  Maybe you are being given the opportunity to say “no” (and not taking it)?  Do you really want to be part of this family, or is that just something you say because it is the “proper” way to feel?  Joanna, there are so very many things that could be going on, and only you, of course, can honestly answer the question for yourself.

There is a word I used there that is very important, Joanna…opportunity.  Life continues to give us the opportunities we require to have this journey as our soul desires, and sometimes those opportunities look like difficult choices and honesty with ones self.  If the same thing keeps happening over and over again, it is a pretty sure bet that there is something you are not willing to look at.

Once you have answered the question above, ask yourself this question:  Is this serving me in the way I would really prefer?  If the answer is “no”, then ask yourself how you could see yourself acting differently, if you had the courage…would you walk out of the kitchen and ask for help?  Would you leave your mother-in-law alone in the kitchen?  Might you re-think those moments in the kitchen and cherish the one on one time with her?

You see, Joanna, once we look at who we are Being in any circumstance, we get to decide if we are happy or miserable…we get to actually choose which one serves us in that moment!  AND get to decide that we can do the same thing we have always done, but, as “The Only Thing That Matters” says, do it for an entirely different purpose.  We can know that even the mundane, and the painful are spiritual events, and we get to choose to look at them one way or the other.

I’ll bet, Joanna, that if you go to the Christmas event with the mindset that you are going to look at each person as individuations of Divinity…if you decide to BE the calm center in whatever chaos may ensue…that you will have a very different experience than before…and you may even see the family transform before your eyes as well.  But even if they don’t, you will have transformed your own unhappiness, and that seems like a pretty good gift to give yourself!


(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com  She may be contacted at:                                                              Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)

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