How to Avoid These 4 Holiday Mistakes That Hurt Families

Finance stress
Finances can be one of the big stressors on families during the Christmas season. (iStock photo)

Our "Happy Holidays" are not just going to be happy simply because they're holidays or because we hope them to be happy. We have to make our holidays happy by the way we approach them.

But that's easier said than done, right?

Life is really about relationships more than anything else. And mistakes in our relationships can kill the holiday mood and the sense of goodwill that the holidays are supposed to encourage. So here are four holiday mistakes that I hope we'll all avoid this year:

1. Letting the good things take your focus off the best things. It's so easy to do. With all the fun, creative, and well intended distractions of the season, we can get so focused on things that are good that we lose our focus on things that are best—our relationships with family and friends. Decorations, holiday activities and special events are good, but they can pull our attention from being present in the moment with those we love. Time together is one of the best gifts we can give one another.

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2. Being a problem-seer instead of a problem-solver. Remember Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh? He was a downer most of the time. He also was usually less than helpful when it came to solving problems, although he was great at pointing them out to everyone.

During the holidays, it's easy to identify and complain about the stressors and challenges of the season. But strive to be a problem-solver, not just a problem-seer. Example: Instead of saying, "Here we go again with your mother criticizing my career!"  Be more constructive and helpful. Try to solve the problem with a positive attitude by saying, "If your mom brings up my career, would you help me graciously steer the conversation to something else?"

3. Being controlling instead of flexible. Sticking with our Winnie the Pooh theme, think about Tigger. He was the bouncy one with the can-do attitude. He was a character that was quick to look for a silver lining in a cloud. My mom is like that. She is always very flexible. She just goes with the flow. It's a lot more fun during the holidays to be with someone that lets things go.

4. Being financially out of sync with your spouse. There are a lot of stressors during the holidays and money is surely one of the biggest ones. If you and your spouse are not together on issues such as how much to spend and on whom, the stress is bound to intrude on the health and happiness of your marriage and family. Develop a plan, in advance, and stick with it.

While trying to avoid all these holiday mistakes, remember that teamwork is the key to success. And you and your spouse are on the same team.

What other mistakes do you suggest your family needs to avoid to keep the holidays happy? Please share in the comments below.

Mark Merrill is the president of Family First. For the original article, visit

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