The Holiday Season

Finding Joy Amidst Holiday Challenges

By Marlene Wagner


We are days away from the busiest time of year. We look forward to that time of the year and all that it represents and entails.

Shopping, gift giving, parties with family and friends. Planning holiday dinners and parties to entertain or be entertained.

It is a time for indulgences we deny ourselves most of the year. Delicious dinners, an excess of pastries, cakes, and candies. And let’s not forget those delightful holiday cocktails.

It’s a time to be grateful and celebrate religious convictions and beliefs.

It’s a time to enjoy the holiday music pouring out of speakers wherever we go. And what could be more beautiful than all the holiday decorations?

Bright holiday lights that light up the nighttime sky. Houses are trimmed, trees are decorated, and front yards display the holiday themes.

Yes, it is a lovely time of the year!

Have I left out anything? Have I covered it all?

I’ve covered the beauty and the joy we experience every year at this time.


With the beauty, love, and happy times, we also have the opposite side that comes along with it.

There is that elephant in the room we’ll talk about today.

There is no other time we experience toxic situations more than during the holiday season.

Stress runs high, and all around us, we see reactions to the pressures of the holidays.

Not to mention the toxic relationships we’re subjected to while celebrating the holiday season.

Our reactions and responses can significantly impact our enjoyment or dread this time of the year.

Unfortunately, far too many dread the holidays and are glad when it is over.

There are many different reasons for this, and we’re going to look at a few that hopefully can make a difference for those who feel this way.

Some love the holidays but fear the toxic experience they have had in the past: a rude relative or a spouse who has a drinking problem.

We will address a few of these scenarios here, and hopefully, it can make a difference for you this year and your future holiday enjoyment.


Love the Holiday Season

You love the holidays, but toxic family gatherings can and often do cause problems during the holidays. Here is a list of a few.

Confrontation with Rude Relatives: Anticipation of encounters with family members who have a history of being rude, critical, or argumentative during holiday gatherings.

Fear of Substance Abuse: Anxious about drinking problems during holiday celebrations, potentially leading to disruptive or unpleasant situations.

Unpredictable Behavior: Concerns about the unpredictable behavior of certain family members, making holiday events stressful and uncomfortable.

Domestic Tensions: Apprehensions about domestic tensions, arguments, or conflicts that start at home may escalate during the holiday season.

Unresolved family conflicts: Apprehension about unresolved family conflicts resurfacing during holiday celebrations, causing tension and discomfort.

Overbearing In-Laws: Dealing with in-laws who may be intrusive, critical, or demanding during holiday gatherings.

Disruption of Festive Atmosphere: Concerns that the toxic behavior of specific individuals will disrupt the festive atmosphere and lead to a negative experience.

Inability to Relax: Fear that the toxic dynamics will prevent individuals from truly relaxing and enjoying the holiday break.


These are just a few. What on the list resonates with you? Select the ones that apply to you and that you’ve experienced in the past.

Prioritize your well-being, address these fears, and have a plan.

Establish your boundaries. Communicate openly with friends and family to ensure a more positive and enjoyable holiday experience.

As always, I encourage you to take the high road, ignore slights, and help everyone have a good time. Be a great example as a good host or guest.


Dreading the Holidays

Dreading the holidays is becoming more prevalent than ever. The list is long as to why holidays are difficult for people. Here are a few.

Family Estrangements: The holidays can highlight strained relationships, leading to discomfort or sadness when spending time with estranged family members.

Financial Strain: The pressure to buy gifts, host parties, and travel can strain finances, causing stress and anxiety.

Loneliness: For those without close family or friends, emphasizing togetherness during the holidays can amplify loneliness.

Grief and Loss: People who have experienced the loss of a loved one may find the holidays a painful reminder of their absence.

Health Issues: Individuals dealing with health problems may find engaging in festive activities or coping with the added stress challenging.

Cultural or Religious Differences: Not everyone celebrates or observes the same holidays similarly, which can lead to feelings of exclusion or isolation.


Which one on the list applies to you? What stands in your way of enjoying the holiday season?

Address your concerns and find ways to navigate the holiday season with mindfulness and self-care.

What can you plan to do to give yourself a more positive and enjoyable experience for this time of year?

Seek the support of friends or family members you are close to or seek professional help that can help you in ways you have not thought of.


I wish you a beautiful, safe, and joyful holiday season with family, friends, and all the loved ones in your world.

Before we go, always remember to

Be true to your magnificent self,
Coach Marlene

Connect with me!! I’d love to hear from you.