Thursday, November 13, 2008

Questions Needed

Hi all, I am doing a segment for an upcoming PJTV segment on coping with the holidays. I would appreciate any questions you have about surviving the holidays this season. It can be about politics, family relationships or anything else having to do with holiday stress. You can leave them in the comment section and I will choose some to read on air. Thanks!


Blogger GawainsGhost said...

Well, I just ordered a peppered smoked turkey, a honey-glazed spiral-sliced ham and other goodies, including a pecan pie and some divinty (the best candy ever) from the New Braunfels Smokehouse, which is very highly recommended (best smoked meats around). I did this because my sister, her husband and their kids, and my youngest brother, are all coming for Thanksgiving.

Yeah, I'll not only pay for but prepare the Thanksgiving feast. I do it every year. Then I'll fill my plate and go back to my condo, lock the door and eat alone, while I watch the Dallas Cowboys play football.

I also sent a turkey, a ham and a brisket, along with some sausage, bacon and a pecan pie, to my brother who lives in Maine and won't be able to bring his family down for Thanksgiving. But at least he'll have a feast, while he also watches the Dallas Cowboys play football.

I love my brother in Maine. Every year I send him smoked meats for Thanksgiving and Christmas, because I want him and his family to eat well and enjoy their blessings. And because he really appreciates it. There is nothing that either of us would not do for the other.

As for the rest of my relatives, I couldn't care less about them. Why? Because they don't appreciate everything I do for them. They just come down for the goodies, make a mess and leave.

But I'll buy and prepare the food so that my mother can enjoy a Thanksgiving feast with her children and grandchildren. Since my father passed away, as I am the eldest son, that is my responsibility. I just try to make sure that everyone has a good meal, then go off by myself and try not to be embarrassed by how the Dallas Cowboys play football.

So, what do you think, Dr. Helen? Am I rude and inconsiderate, because I won't eat with my relatives? Or am I kind and generous, even to those who don't appreciate it?

Either way, I'm going to eat good food while I watch the Dallas Cowboys play football, even though I'll most likely be hanging my head in shame as they lose yet another game, because they don't play like men.

12:11 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

I have two cousins that I love like brothers, but they hate each other. So I travel down to the New Orleans area to see them and go back and forth because they will not be in the same house together.

I instituted a strict policy regarding their talking about the other one. On the first negative comment, I interrupt and say "Yep, he is a bastard and you are lucky to be rid of him. Now, are you gonna say more about that so I have to leave, or is their something else we can talk about?"

That usually works wonders. Especially since I have left each of them when they did not head the warning.


12:56 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger lovemelikeareptile said...

Christmas movies-- some sheer fun , nostagia... others with a moral... the latter go a long way

the best in no particluar order--

1. A Christmas Story-- 1983-- will Ralphie get the Red Ryder BB gun ? great post-WW2 nostalga
2. A Christmas Carol--1951,1983--- the Alistair SIm version from 1951 is definitive, although the George C Scott version -- which is a close copy from around 1983-- is excellant too.
3. One Magic Christmas ---1985-- will the Christmas Angel ( Harry Dean Stanton) revive the Christmas Spirit in this young mother ? Somewhat dark, but a gem.
4. fun fun fun
Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol--1962
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reinderr 1964--- super classic
How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1966-- thats Boris Karloff narrating

5. the major Classics-
Miracle on 34th Street--1947
The Bishop's Wife--1947
Its a Wonderful Life---1946
Christmas in Connecticut--1942

1:39 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Shane said...

An obvious question would be about whether to discuss the election results if there are feuding views on the candidates. My family know how to have a good political conversation, so we'll enjoy that at Christmas, but I have friends who have learned the hard way to never mention anything political.

Politics, religion, and gossip about divorcees - three subjects that family members could use a little advice on!

2:00 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger OldTexan said...

After a lot of years of living and doing things wrong a lot of the time, now on my second marriage with blended families, I think I have learned a few things and as usual for me the hard way.

The first thing is to plan ahead and keep things simple, don't overdo it. We have a small Thanksgiving with the only Grand person still alive, he's in his 90's. We do it early going out to a buffet with our close family at 11:30 and then that the grown kids and grandkids are free for the rest of the day to join up with other extended families.

As for Christmas we celebrate on Chirstmas Eve with our family, meals, presents, etc. and then that leaves Christmas day for others.

If for any reason any part of the family wishes to do something else they always have our blessings with no guilt whatsoever.

Life is not always easy and holidays carry some special tension for people so it seems to be important to lower expectations, slow down and then enjoy what you have and not what you think you need to have, which you usually don't need anyway.

I think the kiss under the mistletoe should be Keep It Simple Stupid and the just enjoy.

2:44 PM, November 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My one daughter is flying in from school in CA to be home for Christmas. All the kids and I get together, eat too much, take naps, and play Monopoly and Life over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lots of apple - cinnamon candles burning. I break out the family photos and we all laugh at those.

This year I also broke down and bought a Netgear wireless router and a couple spare antennae to stop hassles over e-mail checking and surfing the net during "lulls". I have broadband, so with three or even four computers on it at one time, checking e-mails is a bearable speed. My daughters can just bring their damned laptops (I HATE laptops). My son and I both use desktops only.

3:02 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Bolie Williams IV said...

I am about to have my first post-divorce Christmas and am wondering what the best way to coordinate Santa/gifts is for the kids. We want to have Santa visit and I'd like to not give duplicate gifts but my ex and I don't exactly get along. What is the best way to handle this assuming that everyone isn't able to coordinate peacefully?

My primary concern is for the children to enjoy Christmas.

3:14 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger justjohn said...

Dr Helen,

I really appreciate your blog and outlook...

When it comes to coping, try thinking outside the box a bit. Our best Christmas in years was when we took our mom to the mountains. We have a small cabin in the woods right on the Appalachian Trail over in NC. We had a real tree with homemade ornaments including popcorn strings and paper chain ribbons. We have 10,000 stories from those few days.

Take a look down at the bottom of the blog for a picture or two of the cabin...

I have pictures from that time, but will have to look them up.

Hope it helps,

4:12 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

This is probably not what you are looking for, but every year I ask this question (to no one in particular): Why do people get so bent out of shape by the different ways people celebrate the holidays?

Christmas is a religious holiday for me, but I don't boycott stores where the employees say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." I don't get upset at seeing images of Santa but not of Jesus at the mall or other places. So I don't understand Christians who get upset over that. It's a cultural holiday too, right?

On the other hand, I don't understand people who go nuts when they see a nativity scene in a public place, or even (as I read last year) Christmas trees. Surely people who don't celebrate the holiday as Christ's birth understand that it is a significant event for Christians. So why are some people so bothered by seeing Christian images?

Wouldn't it ease a lot of holiday stress if people would just stop letting these things bother them?

5:27 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Melody Byrne said...

Amazon wishlists. Our kids have them, all our family members have them, and all of our friends have them. We have a rule that no one is allowed to buy anything off their own wishlist for a month prior to Christmas. Now that you can items from other stores to Amazon wishlists its even easier. This way, everyone gets something they want for sure, and nobody gets any duplicates. Yes, you're not coming up with something completely special and unexpected, but it takes a lot of stress out of the gift buying for everyone.

11:48 PM, November 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no idea what I read first time, but it wasn't what you wrote.

You are looking for questions from those who need some insight on how to cope with holday anxieties.

So I guess my question is, shouldn't some people (like me, for instance) read twice before posting?

5:23 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Locomotive Breath said...

My wife's family starts Christmas on Columbus Day. This is because my sister-in-law is a public school teacher in Illinois and she gets that day off and want's to do her Christmas shopping. So I get the "what do you want for Christmas?" question in early September.

I've been tempted to re-write that old chestnut into a new song called "The Twelve Weeks of Christmas". Where is Tom Lehrer when you need him?

(I want to add that my sister-in-law is a really fine person and aside from this one little quirk she's the greatest.)

7:37 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Greg said...

How do you deal with holiday traditions that you are no longer able to do because of a death in the family. For my family it was going out to dinner with my grandfather and his wife on xmas eve. Both have passed away. Xmas eve has pretty much sucked the last couple of years and I would love to be able to get that back with my family.

12:13 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Donna B. said...

Transitions from one generation to the next being "in charge" is the most emotionally exhausting thing in my family.

It's a nationwide thing involving travel, family traditions of in-laws, cost... you name it.

My goal is to have all my children and their spouses together here at my house for a holiday celebration and frankly, I don't care which holiday - Columbus day is fine with me.

I know I am fortunate that my children's in-laws are agreeable people and we all get along well together, so it's no problem for any of them to have both sides together... but that doesn't get me all my children together.

Really, I shouldn't complain. I've got it good, but I can't quite forget the wonderful times I had as a child when everyone showed up at one grandma's house on Thanksgiving and at the other's on Christmas.

I want to be one of those grandmas, but I think I'm going to have to get over that :-)

12:19 AM, November 16, 2008  
Blogger Ideaman said...

We lost my brother in 1982. He died on Thanksgiving day. He was a 19 year Down syndrome young man, though of moderately high function. We were devastated, and Christmas was very difficult for our family. But my folks still held to the same traditions of getting a tree, etc. And we focused on all the fond memories of my brother and what a terrific sense of humor he had....My folks did not shy away from talking about him. We talked about him and laughed and loved him, though he was gone. I still miss him.

Focus on the positive, acknowledge there is a God who loves you and ask him for help, strive to share good humor constantly with yourself and others. And be very thankful for all the good that you have in your life.

11:00 AM, November 19, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Helen...I like your blog and came across you through the Glenn Sacks pjtv piece.

Hopefully you still need comments.

I went through a very rough divorce with female on male DV, and now my son has been alienated from me. He lasted a few years before the brainwashing overwhelmed him.

The Holidays and around birthdays is especially hard for me. Thanksgiving through Christmas through New Years and Mid May (my B-Day thru Early June (son's B-Day) through Mid June (Father's Day) are the hardest for me.


1) How can one express the matter to others who tend not to understand without stressing myself or them out? Is this better to do before get togethers? I am uncomfortable being asked where my son is or even how he is doing.

2) My son is now 16. His exe was diagnosed as NPD - a narcissist. Four months after visitation ended 18 months ago he was put on meds for anxiety - paxil. I have joint legal custody but have no control or input over that. Everyone always tells me that "all will be well" when he turns 18. I tend to doubt that due to the alienation. Any thoughts?

3) You should touch base with Jeannie Suks of Harvard Law. She has a new book called "At Home In the Law" coming out next year. She'd be a great interview for you. Let me know if you want PDFs of some of her work - she is excellent and she explains how Family law got to where it is now and where it is going. She has a chapter at the end of Alec Baldwin's "A Promise To Ourselves" too. sjmarcy at ao l dot calm

3:40 PM, December 13, 2008  
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4:42 AM, June 08, 2009  

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