How to survive the Holidays…

 With all of the upcoming hustle and bustle of the holidays I wanted to lend my support. There are many stressors during the holiday season and sometimes they can be even more stressful for those of us in a Marine Corps family. The holidays have been known to create stressful situations in all marriages and instead of enjoying each others company you end up feeling overwhelmed and in quite a few disagreements. So here are my tips for the upcoming craziness…I mean for the upcoming heartwarming, Christmas carolling-out-of-a-movie-kinda-holiday-season with your family.
For those of us with Marines away this season can be good and bad for us.  It is easier to get away with shopping like a maniac with the men gone.  It can be tough though when it comes time for picture taking, Christmas card sending and Christmas morning.  But with a little planning, tough skin, and perseverance we manage to shop our way through this month and well into the next.  Make sure to get a really nice family picture done before he leaves on the deployment to use for your Christmas cards, plan out his care package and have the kids do some homemade drawings and then take pictures for him.  I also kept his gifts in the corner where the tree went and did Christmas whenever he came back even though it was in April! Staying close to family and friends and he will love the effort you are putting into keeping the home fires burning while he is away.
It is officially SHOPPING SEASON ladies!!!!! Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon.com and all these other exciting events happening are super exciting and our version of the Superbowl! Some of us brave the elements and the terrible parking spots to endure pushing, ugly stares and a little cart rage to get the best deals of the year! It is easy to get distracted in these moments for the good and the bad.
It is important we do not take ourselves so seriously and let things happen naturally. It is a fact men love football and any other manner of sports during this season. We shouldn’t expect them to really jump up and do show tunes when we mention hanging the Christmas lights and decorating like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and putting up huge plastic figurines outside. If they do not wake up singing Jingle Bells every morning like we do it is okay and shouldn’t be held against them in any way. At this time of the year we can be a little crazy so before we blow a gasket; in order to keep our sanity intact remember to breathe before nagging or nit picking. We wouldn’t want to be criticized for the way we cook, chop celery, make pancakes and put our makeup on. (OOh I hope no one ever gets those kinds of critics…help the men if they cross that line)
I definitely think that during this sometimes stressful time of year that if we are more open to positive communication then it can increase our chances of a more enjoyable holiday season. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Spending the holidays with your family, his or just stay at home?
So for the last few years this has been a bit of a hot topic in my household and I know we aren’t the only ones. Most Marine Corps families live on a base far from their home state so therefore going back “home” can be a huge stressor due to the tug of war factor. His family may not have any traditions and your family may have many. Please know that each of your families are important and it is just a time management issue that needs to be balanced in order to make each of you happy. You can rotate holidays and do Thanksgiving and his and Christmas at yours, maybe do half a day at one family and the other half at the others family or even try bringing each of the families together to do it all at the same time so no one is overlooked. It is good to get both of your options out in the open at first and any other expectations you have if you are indeed going to go through with this scenario. This way no one can point fingers and think something differently from the other. Both spouses need to agree on any other family get togethers, parties, nights out, lunches and dinners so that it is fair for everyone to see their side of the family as much as they’d honestly like to while you all are in town. Whenever the Marines get back from deployments sometimes they do not want huge parties or it can be a platform for an argument so just let the other spouse know so everyone is aware of each others comfort zones and feelings. Personally, we’re staying here. It is just a lot of traveling and craziness, we end up spending minimal amounts of time with particular family members and just be pulled in multiple directions and then go home tired, stressed out and argumentative. This year we want simply, fun, relaxed and just us. We’ll start our traditions here cut down our own Christmas tree, decorate it, put up our lights on our house, see the Del Mar lights and some holiday plays and just relax.
So basically:
1) Communicate effectively not just the Charlie Brown syndrome of “whah, whah, whahhh”
2) Discuss finances NOW so you know who you’re buying for, how much, the overall total
3) STICK TO THAT BUDGET
4) If overwhelmed find a way to let the other know you need a break to get out of there fast!
5) You don’t always have to be with family; go to a local landmark, go hiking or on a picnic just the two of you
6) Don’t let your parents or in-laws treat you or your spouse like a child! Respect them but if it’s a problem let them know you are not the 10 year old you used to be and would appreciate the same respect you give them.
7) Don’t drink too much alcohol
8) Don’t over-schedule, over-stimulate, or overwhelm yourselves which will just create stress
9) Have fun together, love each other, be patient and understanding
10) Be socialable, flexible, loving, compassionate, and again PATIENT!Most of all enjoy yourselves and have a great time together with your family!!!

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