Saturday, December 10, 2011



**HOSTILITY**  Christmas, traditionally a time of family connectedness, can unfortunately also be the very time that reminds our partners, our exes, the children and perhaps even us of Christmases past. These memories may resurface a sense of guilt, grief and loss which can easily turn into hostility. As this increases the likelihood of  spoiling a day that should ideally be spent in an atmosphere of peace, happiness and joy, we should guard against this at all costs. If you have the misfortune of having to deal with a hostile ex-partner or hostile step/children, recognize that their hostility is rooted in deep feelings of hurt and find it in your heart to be as gracious as possible on this occasion.

**HOPE** can be a good antidote for hostility. Hope helps us remember that all things change and even the most deeply-felt emotions will diminish over time. Hope gives us the strength to leave the past behind and focus on the challenges of the present whilst also keeping an eye on the future. It helps us to overlook things that aren’t worth fighting or suffering for. It enables us to hold on to our ideals, our visions and plans for a stepfamily life marked by success and joy. It can help us let hostile comments pass, overlook insensitivities and be generous with our affection even when we find ourselves face-to-face with the resentment of others.


**RESENTMENT** is the festering, cancer-like emotion that is familiar to all of us and could easily spoil Christmas if we allowed it to enter our hearts.  Resentment can arise as a result of feeling railroaded, trodden on, taken advantage of, not being accepted or appreciated for who we are or what we do. Sometimes it is not the resentment WE might feel that affects our Christmas spirit, but the resentment that is directed at us. It could be our ex, our partner’s ex , our stepchildren, and at times even our partner whose resentment might be the problem. Resentment is a ‘toughie’ that’s difficult to overcome. So, what helps?

**REACHING OUT** Yep, I know that can be a tall order. After all, who feels like reaching out to someone by whom we feel taken advantage of or trodden on? No-one, I am sure. But sometimes it’s really important that we do not follow our feelings but instead make some tough decisions and choices and follow those instead. If we decided to reach out to those this Christmas whom we resent and/or to those whom we know resent us, what would the outcome be? I don’t know the answer to that question, but why not try and see for yourself?! What do you have to lose? Nothing, right? What do you have to gain? A happy Christmas Day, for one thing. Feeling really good about yourself, for another. And if you are lucky, your new attitude may even diffuse the dynamite that’s been smoldering between you and whomever!!!!! 


**IRRITATION** It isn’t not unusual around this time of year to be plagued by a sense of irritation and, although being irritated is often the byproduct of having to deal with people we’d rather not have to deal with, one certainly doesn’t have to be a stepparent to feel this way. I often get irritated by the fact that the shops are overcrowded, that it’s virtually impossible to get a parking spot or a shop assistant’s attention. I get irritated by the fact that schools break up far too early, that school functions, business functions and another two thirds of the functions one could easily spread throughout the rest of the year all seem to be squashed into the month of December and that every year Christmas just tends to sneak up on me.

**INSPIRATION** Why not allow inspiration to replace irritation? When inspired we begin to think outside the square we live in. If we loath shopping malls at Christmas time, we could perhaps do our Christmas shopping throughout the year. If we don’t believe in running with the materialistic crowd, we could perhaps 'handmake' the presents we want to give our loved ones this year. I guess there isn’t a great deal one can do about school functions and the like, but we can certainly say “no” to the multitude of social functions that come our way at this time of year. This helps take at least some of the pressure off Christmas.

Be sure to return for the continuation of this article next week.

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