How to Survive Christmas, New Year’s, and the In-Laws

Category: Weekly Columns

 how to survive

#DadChat is the weekly TweetChat (on Twitter) that I founded and host – often with guest-hosts – every Thursday evening from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. PT. It has grown to be one of the most popular, busy, and fun chats among the hundreds that exist. On Thursday December 6, I invited our participants to share their tips for surviving the holidays. The idea was simply to compile the best and make a column out of them.

Good idea.

But, there was a problem. There were so many tips and ideas, that choosing the best was impossible. Having Dabney Porte as my very special co-host only aggravated this problem (sarcasm) ‘cause she brought not only her wisdom, but also a great energy and passion for family to our discussion.

Several general themes were present in our discussion and you can read the transcript if you want to see all the 1,200 or so tweets. It became clear that so many families are fractured in one way or another that just the organization and coordination of holiday events can be stressful. It also was clear, among the #DadChat dads and moms, that we all believed our job was to focus on our kids, rather than ourselves and do our best to let go of any resentments, past or present.

So, let’s look at the many wise offerings we gave one another, in no order of importance. Every person will be referenced by their Twitter handle, in the way we participate in #DadChat:

~~@EButtsCPA – Always side with mom since she was the one that took care of us.
~~ @JesseMoore_ – One tip, don’t tell the in-laws they can stop by anytime =).
~~ @DabneyPorte – When I knew I was going to get divorced I decided to redefine my family unit – not end it.
~~ @PeepWise – It’s all about the stocking in our house…we all open them one by one with tons of small wacky gifts…and Chocolate (bacon!).
~~ @Dr_Weberman – Holiday Tip: Attend fam dinners w/ mindset of being entertained, not triggered. Imagine every inapp remark as fodder 4 Ur next blog.
~~ @aDadsPov – Another excellent tip that came up on my radio show today: Manage Your Expectations.

~~ @LoisMarketing – Lose the idea of what’s best for you and your current relationship and consider what’s best for the kids. Lose SoMe too! Note from Bruce: SoMe is Social Media.
~~ @Dr_Weberman – Holiday Tips: Have an answer prepared 4 triggering remarks U know you’ll hear, i.e. “so when R U getting married?”
~~ @JesseMoore_ – Another tip, avoid being the GOTO person for Christmas Trees.
~~ @RaisingGreatMen – My tip is to not get sucked into the madness of a perfect holiday.
~~ @BigBob24266 – Me and my family often don’t have alot at Christmas and instead of giving gifts to each other we donate them.

 ~~ @washparentmag – Yep! Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.
~~ @gingerconsult – We do not sweat the season…we just enjoy the day. For us, it is a day to enjoy each other not the gifts.
~~ @PeepWise – The most fun is in the kitchen cooking all the yummy Christmas cookies – and eating them!~~ @DabneyPorte – If guys play the TASK man over the holidays & forget to toss in some romantic #DivaDust it may not be so merry. Note from Bruce: I fully agree with Dabney.

I got this original poster from It’s a Wonderful Life in the early 70’s for $2.00!

~~ @BruceSallan -Great aid for the holidays: Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” ~~@Gingerconsult – My best tip – kids will remember the time you spent with them more than gifts during the holidays, make memories.

 ~~ @EditMob – Every year tradition on Christmas Eve, I ring a bell for each kid/grandkid – this year 2 great grands.
~~ @azmomofmanyhats – TIP: Write a note to person of why you chose a gift. Story behind it creates value and meaning :).
~~ @BarbaraDuke – My family takes children to help w/meal for homeless on Thanksgiving and invite homeless for Christmas.
~~ @jaymielynnie – We always have fashion shows, put on every item of clothing as we receive it, so I remember when Mom bought me a bra lol.
~~ @EditMob – We adopt needy family and deliver gifts week of Christmas. Taught my family how blessed they are.

 ~~ @BarryBirkett – And there can’t be too much of it! RT @azmomofmanyhats: TIP: Realize that family time is precious.
~~ @HugTrainUSA – TIP: Check in with people you haven’t heard from in a while.
~~ @IanGertler – Traditions: taking my boys to pick a new ornament for the tree together. On Xmas, my wife’s homemade cinnamon rolls! Note from Bruce: I want some of those, please?
~~ @BarbaraDuke – My parents did bitter, I tried not to do bitter. If there is a choice, Choose kindness. Easier on kids.
~~ @SMhostess – I would say…make it about your children first. Everything else…parties etc…fit that in only after. Note from Bruce: This is another Twitter handle for @DabneyPorte who got thrown in Twitter Jail, as did I a bit later!
~~ @Sharon_Silver – Since I’m a kid of divorce, I’d say please make it about the kid. It helps heal the loss.
~~ @Casudi – Make it about people not things.
~~ @jaymielynnie – Put your camera/cell-phone down. Focus on enjoying the moment, not capturing it. Note from Bruce to Bruce: Pay attention to this one!
~~ @BW_Management – Have fun, relax and think like a kid, get on the floor with them and play! Forgive…
~~ @BarbaraDuke – Holidays are about love and family. Remember the reason for the season.
~~ @RaisingGreatMen – Tips: You can’t change your family, so change how your respond to them.
~~ @aDadsPov – Alright, let’s ALL pledge to leave bitterness in the dustbin this holiday season NO MATTER WHAT. Note from Bruce: This is another of my Twitter handles since I was also thrown in Twitter Jail by this point in the chat!

Wow, just curating and choosing these tweets made me realize how important community, family, and learning from one another can be. This is what I love about Social Media. Please add your ideas in the comment section below. There’s no limit to what we can do to support one another!

Get my new e-book on #Kindle for FREE and get the PDF version included – all FREE! Just click on the book cover image below! Offer expires Xmas Eve!

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  • Jennifer Weberman

    Wow, what a great list! I’m flattered to be on here. I think my absolute favorite from the list is from @RaisingGreatMen – “You can’t change your family, so change how you respond to them.” Powerful wisdom. Thank you all for a great #DadChat.

    • Bruce Sallan

      You said pretty much the same thing on last week’s radio show, Dr. Jennifer:

  • Bev

    Thank you Bruce for sharing & caring. Will never forget my first #Dadchat. ~bev @EditMob

    • Bruce Sallan

      Key word for me was “first” Bev, aka @EditMod:twitter 

  • Sharon @ProactiveParenting

    Bruce, thank you so much for including me in your extensive list. I’m truly honored! So many divorced parents think that by saying, “We’re not getting a divorce because you did anything wrong.” that’s so important to say, but not all that needs to be said or done. For kids there are daily losses, daily sadness, and private pain when a family splits up. And you, and your work are doing wonderful things to help heal that! Thanks for all you do. 
    Sharon @ Proactive

    • Bruce Sallan

      My complete pleasure, Sharon and I sure hope you’ll be a regular at #DadChat!

  • David Weber

    About 2 years ago, I finally came out of the closet as an unrepentant Scrooge about Christmas.  It was liberating!  I loathe everything about Christmas except that I do respect that kernel of theology and  spiritual practice that underlies the Christmas endeavor, and I enjoy a great many of the musical compositions associated with Christmas. (During the past week, I loaded about 120 Christmas cuts onto the iPod that I received as a gift not long ago and since June have been populating with music.) 

    Christmas and almost everything about it totally sucks eggs.  (Please excuse the Easter allusion.) I can’t tell you how good it feels to express the unvarnished truth, as opposed to hedging or underplaying it. 

    I don’t begrudge anyone his or her enjoyment of Christmas.  If you love Christmas, that is unconditionally OK with me.  I have no problem at all with Christmas decorations or creches on public property.  I am absolutely OK with wishing “Merry Christmas” to anyone you want to, if that’s what you wish to say; and indeed, around Christmas, I wish service personnel “Merry Christmas” as a way of saying, “Thanks for your help” at a restaurant, store or office.  When someone wishes me Merry Christmas, I say thank you, same to you.

    But that’s because I practice fundamental social skills and value civility and courtesy as a default approach to people. The truth  is, however, Christmas culture is an ugly feature of human life. 

    In about 2004 I was involved in online dating.  In and around Christmas, I mentioned in emails to a couple of women I had contact with that I had mixed feelings about Christmas — that was in my hedging or underplaying days.  Several of them asked why, and to keep from re-inventing the wheel, I wrote a brief essay explaining myself.  If I do say so myself, my reasons are well thought out and articulately presented in that essay.  One woman I had made plans to meet up with replied in email that it was off, she could never be romantically involved with a yuleophobe.   (Hmmm, I just made that term up and, dang, I like it!)

    So here are just a few of my least favorite things about Christmas:

    – The Little Drummer Boy.  At best, the song is a parable about (a) “it’s the thought that counts,” although (b) that doesn’t mean thought necessarily counts for MUCH.  At worst, the story of a little boy with no musical chops thinking he’s doing something that any of the strangers around him appreciate.  It could not have been a very silent night in the stable once the animals, annoyed by the racket, started adding their moos and neighs to the acoustic space.  Unless the drumbeat matches the baby’s heartbeat, it is going to wake Infant Jesus up and he is going to start squalling.

    – It’s a Wonderful Life.  It may be a wonderful life, but it’s a nincompoop of a movie.   I don’t for a moment buy his story about not being able to get into the Army because of his busted ear … World War II memoirs and recollections are filled with stories of guys who cheated on hearing or eye tests in order to get into uniform.  So George the Draft Evader stays home while Bert and Ernie go to war and, upon returning home, become characters on Sesame Street. 

    – Reindeer antlers … especially on pet dogs, although they are awful on service professionals.  Notice that managers and executives never wear them … it’s always the frontline staff members who don them.  I go into the bank and there’s the teller with his or her antlers on.  These guys I should trust to take care of my life savings? 

    – Sappy drawings that portray Jesus as Nordic.  Well, yes, it’s possible that, thanks to traffic on a trade route, some genes from Circassian merchants snuck south into The Holy Land and had an impact on Mary’s DNA.  But I still doubt Jesus looked like Viggo Mortensen. 

    – Inappropriate attire for winter travel.  I have always questioned whether the deserts of The Holy Land get snowed on, but I’m no meteorologist, so I’ll assume that freak precipitation happens.  My concern is that in other sappy Christmas drawings, The Wise Men are portrayed as draped in layers of cloaks…and wearing SANDALS.  I say you’re not so wise if you travel for days in winter and don’t wrap your foot in fleece…by which I mean actual fleece, not polyprophillcrapalon by North Face–weren’t lambs all over the place in that part of the world a couple of thousand years ago?  Wouldn’t you think that at least one of the three kings could have ordered a jester or courtier to score SOMETHING to swaddle their feet with for the journey to Bethlehem?

    – The Christmas Elf.  I heard about this tradition last week for the first time.  Are you familiar with it?  Apparently, some families buy a Christmas Elf and hide it in one place after another for kids to find during the days leading up to Christmas.  Clearly, the custom of hiding the afikomen at the Passover seder has been grafted onto the Advent calendar.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Okay Professor Scrooge – you win on this one…You made me speechless!

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