Christmas is commonly called the most wonderful time of year but for those adulting, it is also packed with stress. The holidays are an extremely busy time and they carry with them a lot of expectations and as the weeks fast approach, it is also filled with dread. There are a number of things that could act as stressors for the holidays and some of them are:
If your home is the place where your family and friends gather during the holidays, you may be under a lot of stress with making food and drinks, cleaning the house, and preparing the bedrooms. The work that needs to be done piles up quickly and it could be extremely stressful especially if you decide to do this alone.
Another common stressor during the holiday season is finances. Money can be stressful during the holidays no matter your income level. However, if you earn significantly more than most of your relatives, you might feel it’s your responsibility to buy gifts or host gatherings. This sense of responsibility might contribute to you feeling financially stressed. Even though you might feel it's your responsibility to cater for Christmas because of the big financial gap you and your relatives have, it’s also important you set a realistic budget so you don’t stress and strain your finances during the holidays.
A third holiday stressor is your own family and their expectations and perceptions. When you earn more than most of your relatives your family members may have various expectations of what you bring to the table regarding everything from gift-giving to contributions and hosting gatherings. You might feel the stress and pressure to meet these elevated expectations. One way of managing expectations is by openly communicating with your family what you can and cannot do.
When there is a noticeable income gap, family dynamics can be stressful but there are various ways to deal with these dynamics. Do you earn more than your relatives? Here are some things to avoid this Christmas.
Andrew is everyone's favourite uncle. Favourite because he goes above and beyond on his Christmas presents. The kids seem to love him, the adults find him a little intimidating with all the flashy gifts. His relatives' kids start to demand more of their parents and because they are still too young to understand how income streams work, they feel and even share that their parents are holding back on them. As a way of sorting out the problem, the kids ask their uncle Andrew to buy the things they want and he says yes without thinking too hard. Their parents feel embarrassed and undervalued by their kids as a result. Uncle Andrew thinks he is spreading Christmas cheer but he is unknowingly making some people envy him or feel bitterness towards him because year after year he outshines them with lavish gifts.
Learning to strike a balance in your gift choices may help foster a sense of inclusion and shared appreciation. It's also good to keep in mind that the purpose of gift-giving is to celebrate the bond between family and not showcase financial disparities. Consider gifts that reflect a deep understanding of each other’s preferences and needs.
As the holiday season unfolds, it’s normal for people to get carried away with their spending. To not look at the price tag and just add various items to their shopping carts.
In John’s eyes, he sees his spending as a way of adding more cheer and joy to the holidays. Whatever his kids, wife, and even that random friend who texts once a year to say happy birthday wants he gives. John makes it rain a lot, so much so that some of his relatives and friends started calling him Father Christmas. What John didn’t realise was that he was straining his finances. He said yes to every request he got from family and from friends, it didn’t matter how ridiculous the request was, John got you. John does this every year and spends his January wondering where all his money went.
As much as the holidays are about giving and spreading cheer, you still have to be mindful of your spending. There are several ways you could have your spending in check. Some of the ways are by making a Christmas budget, setting a spending limit, or simply saying no to some requests.
Bragging often entails highlighting one’s positive qualities or achievements. Bragging can be subtle or obvious and is usually an attempt to impress people. You may not think you are bragging to your relatives but instead sharing your accomplishments with them but that could be taken the wrong way. Having a healthy amount of confidence is not a bad thing, however bragging may be a little too far for instance if you exaggerate your strengths, abilities, or achievements. It’s good to note that not everyone who brags does it intentionally. Bragging could be a result of many things, it could be caused by pride or ego but it could also be the result of poor social skills, social anxiety, or low self-esteem.
Even with that said, bragging about wealth could lead to you appearing arrogant or selfish and may cause your relationships to become strained or one-sided. You don’t want to be that one cousin everyone resents or avoids during the holidays.
Practice humility. When your family is all gathered together for the holidays not everyone is making the same amount of money you are making. It is necessary to try and foster an environment of humility, gratitude, and togetherness.
Barbra is an adrenaline junkie. She has gone skydiving and she has swum with sharks. She enjoys trying out new and exciting activities and looks forward to sharing these experiences with her family. However, her family rarely honours her invites for two reasons, firstly, it's not that Barbra’s family doesn’t like being around Barbra, it's just they literally can’t afford to see her or afford some of the activities she proposes. The other reason is the activities she enjoys are too extreme and scary for most of the family.
Christmas is a time to strengthen those bonds and not a time for your family to feel like you are trying to kill them or for them to feel left out. Rather than focusing on extravagant outings or extreme sports, consider switching gears and concentrating on creating shared experiences that resonate with everyone. This could be something as simple as baking together or having a family game night. These activities shift the focus away from money-centred activities allowing everyone to contribute in different ways.
Ann prides herself on being named the family’s "rich aunty". Ann is looking forward to spending time with her nieces and nephews and has a whole holiday program planned out for them. Ann planned and budgeted for a trip for her and her nieces and nephews however because she is the family’s rich aunty, a lot of other relatives planned to tag along. Ann loves her family and if she could she would take them all with her, unfortunately for her, her heart says yes but her bank account says no sis, stick to your budget.
Communicating openly in any relationship is crucial. Open communication may reduce tension. If you earn more than your relatives, openly discussing expectations and financial boundaries is crucial. This approach is important as it helps prevent misunderstandings and potential conflicts.
Family and money are two tricky things to balance and having them both in one room, if not handled carefully is a disaster waiting to happen. With the right approach to handling the two, you might avoid a lot of uncomfortable scenarios, stress, stress, and envy.