The holidays come with so many expectations. Expectations of gifts, and food and most unpredictable, of people. Some of us have families and workplaces that fit the cultural expectations or at least pieces of them. But most of us don’t really. 

Over the years I have done all sorts of things from work hard to cook the perfect meal, create the perfect party, buy the perfect presents. I’ve hung out with Jewish friends, feeding people at shelters, eating Chinese and going to the movies. I’ve also boycotted the holidays altogether. I told people I was going away and hid in my house with pizza and binge-watched TV. 

As we head into the chaos of Christmas, whether you celebrate or not, take a breath. In the end, it’s about how to both care for your real needs and give to others. And as per usual for me, ask some questions.

Tip 1. What do you want? Really want. Is it to sleep in? Is it cookies? Is it that the meal is delicious? Is it that your brother, sister, uncle, mother, whoever, just doesn’t insult anyone? Even if you can’t get it, honestly acknowledging it can help.

Tip 2. What is in your control? Usually, that’s not so much. It might be deciding how long you’ll stay at a gathering or to change the menu to something more mistake proof. Make a plan and control the controllable. 

Tip 3. Gift grace. To others and yourself. People are going to disappoint one another. Sometimes it’s others, sometimes it’s ourselves. There are 365 days in a year and we’ve all lived through some that were less than stellar. And had great days that weren’t prescribed holidays.