Brace yourself, the holidays are coming!

Eddard “Ned” Stark from the HBO series Game of Thrones © HBOYes gentlemen, it’s that time again: the holidays are upon us. For those of us in the States it starts with Thanksgiving this Thursday. For all of us Christmas and New Years are approaching at full gallop.

The holidays can be great fun, but they can also be difficult on marriages. Stress runs high, arguments escalate, sex is neglected, quality time ceases to happen, and on and on. Why not have a discussion with your bride now, before the madness hits, and decide to opt out of the problems that can accompany the holidays?

Yes, this fits in nicely with my last few posts about doing less and having less resulting in us being happier. Decide what is important, make time for that, and limit the usual holiday activities and expenses as necessary to keep the priorities where they should be. Doing this is not easy, and it will take real courage.

One common problem is relatives who expect a visit, or expect to visit you. If you both have family who expect this, the problem can become significant. Some may respect you for setting limits and making choices, but some will no doubt be offend. I would say your marriage and your immediate family (your bride and children) are more important than the feelings and offences of others – take a stand and stick to it no matter what. Do what is right, and let others choose to fit within that or not.

Another common problem is overspending. I know folks who go into debt each December. Debt is the gift that keeps on taking – do not allow it into your home! Beyond the debt, do you need all those things? Do your kids need all those things? Does anyone need something from you badly enough to justify paying it off for months or years? Again, take a stand. Decide what you can afford and what you think you should spend, and do whichever is the least of those two. Then let folks know what you are doing, and let them choose to give to you, or not, and in whatever amount they feel is right. If it’s the thought that counts (and it should be, shouldn’t it?), then how much you spend should not be an issue. Additionally, any gift accompanied by a card with more than a dozen heartfelt words is a gift worth far more than your money can buy.

Time use is yet another common issue. We are overrun with parties, shopping, events, school and church programs, and on and on. Decide how much time you and your bride need for each other, and how much time your kids need with you, and then make hard decisions about what time you have left. Yes, you will probably offend someone because you don’t attend something. Odds are they will get over it, and if their feelings are more important to them than your time, then you might be better off if they don’t get over it. Again, decide what is right, and then have the guts to stand by that.

Arm yourselves my bothers! The battle of the holidays is upon us, and only the courageous will escape unscathed!

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8 Comments on “Brace yourself, the holidays are coming!

  1. I love your comparison to the holidays as a battle. As a lover, not a fighter, I do my best to avoid the battle when it isn’t necessary. So for the next six weeks I will be avoiding the entire mall area of town. My wife and I will be more selective of the invitations that we accept, and we have already informed our families that we need time to ourselves so we won’t be hanging out all holiday season with them.

  2. We take turns: one year, we stay with my wife’s family, the next year with mine. If it can be synchronized with the siblings, that is a great way of reducing the number of visits.

    PS: shouldn’t it be _don’t_ allow in “Debt is the gift that keeps on taking – allow it into your home!”

  3. Spend less than you make, give to those who are less fortunate, and remember the real reasons for the season and it makes for a happy holiday.

    I tend to spend our cash back bonus we earn from various credit cards on the holiday gifts. We pay our balances in full each month and get between 1 to 5% in rewards. When used to redeem discounted gift cards, that can go a long way in getting our gift shopping done.

    We don’t exchange gifts with the adults, asking folks to make donations in the names of adults to charities of their choosing.

    Recently, my wife and I donated a cow via Heifer International on behalf my wife’s 90 year old grandmother’s birthday.

    She had everything she’ll ever need, (just ask her) so a donation in her name was the perfect gift.

  4. Oh, the thing about the holidays for me is I have to change my commute. The exit I normally take to return home is nearest exit to the local mall. So it’s 6 weeks of a slightly longer commute to avoid the mall traffic at night.

    I’m grateful that’s the major crisis I have to avoid for the holidays :)

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