Bring on the Holidays
After you tuck the kids in bed and start munching away on their Hallowe'en loot, you may start to think about what the end of this day means - the 'official' beginning of holiday craziness. Once the witch and pumpkin costumes are stowed away, it is time to think about buying gifts, stringing outdoor lights, ordering cute holiday cards, giving to charities, honoring spiritual traditions, baking cookies, decorating the house, planning for parties, cooking the turkey, making travel arrangements and countless other time commitments. Every year, the daunting to-do list is almost enough to make one wish away the festivities altogether. Almost.
Marc and I have very different ways of approaching the holidays. If Marc were left to run the show, we'd have a bare basics season and I'd be unhappy because we'd skip traditions that I have come to love. If I ruled the scene, I'd go all out with 9000 things on the to-do list, and Marc would be miserable being assigned chores he didn't value and buying into an experience he didn't particularly enjoy.
But neither of us owns the way our family will celebrate the holidays. ESP guides us to have a discussion up front about a joint plan - one that lies somewhere in the middle of our individual ideals. In our discussion, we share with each other what Christmas and Thanksgiving personally signify and why we value (or do not value) specific activities. In the end, we arrive at an approach that hopefully preserves the essence of each holiday for both of us. I give up some of the extras in exchange for full buy-in from Marc on sharing the to-do list, and Marc agrees to include some things I hold dear in exchange for knowing that his responsibilities will not suddenly balloon as each holiday approaches. The resultant plan is then equally shared, with Marc taking half the work and me taking half.
Many people consider a discussion like this to be too much work. Yes, it takes some effort. But to us it is time well spent because it makes our next two months much more peaceful and our hearts are not filled with resentment or anger. We both get to learn what makes each holiday special for our partner, and have a fighting chance at remembering the true meaning of each celebration.