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Sidestepping the holiday rush

Avoid yuletide dilemmas with mutual discussions and some planning.

By Anna Gamboa Gan


Visiting your relatives is as integral to the holidays as Misa de Gallo, Simbang Gabi and Noche Buena. But sometimes having so little time and so much to do can be a cause of friction. How do families or couples agree to visit together for some relatives or events?

Counselor Aiza Tabayoyong suggests, “Have a calendar visible to [everyone] of all parties, gatherings, trips that will be made … either as a family, as a couple or as individuals. If events double up or coincide, consider a divide-and-conquer approach where couples can split up, just for this time, to be at both [occasions].”

As for couples or nuclear families starting their own holiday practice—such as going abroad during the season—despite long-held traditions that dictate visiting kith and kin, where can they strike a balance? “Couples must keep in mind that, although family traditions from their families of origins are important, as a new couple, they are also making their own traditions now. They’re already a separate entity from their parents and original families, so decisions made within their new system should take precedence and must be respected by the members of the old system,” advises Tabayoyong.

Good communication is key to having a fulfilling holiday for everyone, says Tabayoyong, who adds that this give-and-take of listening to the other person and openly expressing one’s feelings is important. She notes, “After emotions and deep values are shared and understood, only then will a couple be in the best position to negotiate, compromise if necessary, and then decide.”

The [modified] spirit of giving

Gift-giving may also be a possible source of conflict, especially if your budget is strained—so how does one go around giving gifts to relatives? Tabayoyong opines, “[You] may give one gift which will benefit the whole family, [but] put the extra effort of writing down the names of all the members if the family and writing down a very sincere and heartfelt Christmas wish for them. [Or] consider buying small useful tokens for all, instead of costly ones. If monetary resources are limited but you have time in your hands, do get creative and [make] personalized gifts.”

In the event you plan to give gifts to just a few people, Tabayoyong advises being discreet about giving to the selected recipients, to avoid slighting the non-recipients. “In fact, [it’s] better not to give to any at all. … [Or] consider giving only to the children of your relatives or friends,” she adds.

No more room?

The holidays also see most people gladly playing hosts to out-of-town visitors. But sometimes there will be someone who may come along and announce right then and there that they just might extend their stay. What’s one to do? “This is a tricky situation, especially [in] the very touchy Filipino family setting,” Tabayoyong reflects. “To avoid such problems, set the contract right from the beginning. You can say [for example], ‘We are so thrilled to have you join us during the holidays! Until when will you be staying with us—so we can make necessary preparations in terms of food for breakfast and the like and also so we can have our son know that he will be sleeping with us until that time?’ If they express [an] intention to stay longer, be honest in [stating] your challenges, like a son's preference to stay in [his] own room, inability to host them due to your own busy schedule, budget being just enough for the family, but in a very sincerely somber tone. You might also recommend other places for them to stay, should they really need to remain in town for some reason—[short-lease] apartments, hotels or other relatives who [won’t] mind additional long-term company.”

For more articles on overcoming holiday hassles and resisting the Christmas rush, get a copy of the December-January issue of
HealthToday magazine from your nearest bookstore or newsstand.

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