It has been a noticeable trend in my clinical and coaching work for years that I have a spike of client intakes in January. ‘Tis the season to be jolly but also the season to beware. The two main Christmas traps being family the get together and the office party.
Santa is on his way and it’s time to start looking forward to the family get together. Great food, the grog flowing freely and generally making merry. Of course, the latter depends on whether you are having to host the relative from hell. You know, the one who drinks your booze all day and then disappears when the washing up has to be done. On the way out the door he comments on how its been a busy year and he needs the rest as he flops into your new Christmas hammock stretching the new fabric with his overfilled board shorts. The problem arises when you mutter something disparaging that is heard by his sister, your better half, his mother or even his wife
Other possibilities are that your spouse changes from an assertive, stable, very capable and reasonable person to a snivelling, grovelling wimp when he returns to the place of his birth and his mother’s, ‘nobody can make apple crumble like mum’, ministrations. This is the ultimate childhood regression. Unfortunately you pointing it out is not always treated with the joy appropriate to the season.
Then there is the mad uncle who insists on telling everyone how things were so bad when he was a kid that you were lucky to get a beating on Christmas day let alone a gift. Having forgotten to take his Prozac, he makes even the turkey feel guilty for having turned up at all. And all this on top of your over-exited progeny that on waking at 2 am unwraps the parcel you put in the stocking at the end of the bed (to be true to the spirit of Santa). She then needs you to assemble the latest ‘space-explorer moon docking machine’. Not easy with a champagne induced hangover, sans curative sleep. Putting your foot in in the saucer of milk and half eaten carrot that you left for the reindeer just tops off the moment.
A lot of people are tired at the end of the year and want nothing more than to collapse in a heap with a cold cloth on the forehead for a week or so. But no we enter the lion’s den. Christmas is a really tricky time which can lead to all sorts of arguments, threats of divorce, and slamming of doors as we step back in time, have to mix with people we might not like, lose our independence, and have to move with the herd. Avoiding the potential roller coaster is easier said than done of course. It’s not a simple matter to avoid family and deciding to go AWOL can be an even greater, ‘you’ve never liked my family’ sort of disaster.
The office party has all sorts of possibilities for disaster. Letting the alcohol take over and telling the boss exactly what you think about her latest policy on appropriate behaviour at Christmas parties can be a career ending opinion. Getting all the cues wrong from that attractive work colleague, thanks to alcohol induced brain damage, can lead to all sorts of Weinstein moments. And let’s not forget that stripping off down to the undies and diving into the water fountain at party venue is not always a good image to be recalled when the boss is considering who might be the next to get that senior management role.
Hopefully, won’t see you in person or talk online after Christmas to help you unravel Christmas induced stress-be careful out there.