Does it ever seem like most of what you hear about the holidays is about how busy and stressed people are? It’s almost like we’re being told that we’re supposed to be exhausted and depressed at Christmas.
Dad, I say don’t let it drag you down.
I know a lot of people are going through some very real challenges, and the holidays truly are painful and lonely. I definitely don’t want to minimize that.
But allow me to say a few words to the rest of us, who are not dealing with a major loss or challenge: Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful.
For me, a big part of that is choosing the right attitude. I prefer to go in with a positive outlook. I expect Christmas to be great, and I hope you do the same. I guess it just depends on how we define a “great Christmas.”
You already know it won’t be all miracles and magic. For one thing, the holidays have a way of magnifying small strains in a marriage. Be aware of that, and come prepared with some extra grace and forgiveness.
And of course the kids still argue and whine, and still get tired or sick. They make you late to events. They have blow-out diapers and spill things on their new clothes. There may even be an unexpected trip to the E.R. before the season is over.
With extended family members comes a new load of tension. Uncles, aunts and cousins all come with their own idiosyncrasies. But see if you can smile through it.
And of course, if you’re a divorced dad, the Christmas season won’t make it easier to deal with your ex. Maybe she’ll spring a surprise on you that sabotages the great plans you’ve made with the kids. Or maybe she’ll get your emotions riled up with a certain statement or tone. Again, don’t get dragged into that.
All that “real life stuff” is still there, and I think the secret for us is to have the right mind-set going in. People are who they are, and things will likely go wrong or be difficult.
So choose a good attitude; choose grace; and choose to stay flexible on details that really don’t matter that much.
Your kids are watching. And so I recommend you model “peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.”
What about you? What’s your typical attitude like during the holidays, and what helps you stay positive? Go to our Facebook page and let us know.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
- Ask your kids about their favorite holiday traditions or memories, and do the same thing or something similar this year.
- Then ask them what new traditions they’d like to start—maybe a particular food or event, playing “secret Santa” for someone, or serving meals at a local rescue mission.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. We encourage you to help us change the culture of fathering in America by joining the Championship Fathering Team. You can also sign up for Carey’s weekly email tips by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.