Holiday visits don't go as well as desired; gifts often show less than thoughtfulness or awareness of who we are and what we value. Longing to have everything go smoothly, we often raise our levels of expectation beyond the possible, surpassing the probable or the highly likely. Guests often say what is on their minds, listening in-laws disregarded. Teens and young adults sometimes are not participating as we might wish (if they bother to appear at all.) Remember: these perceived faux-pas are not about you. Forgive, let the snubs and slights roll away and resolve to reduce expectations next year.
Unfortunately, these disappointments take on further weight for caregivers who are generally stressed and unable to be flexible enough to shoulder the difficulties of being a host or a guest.I remember hoping that the family being present would give me some respite from always wondering where my spouse was or what he was doing. When my daughter reported that her in-law complained that my husband was "double-dipping" his potato chip into the onion dip, I was crestfallen. Why don't people understand, I wondered.
My more recent goal is to attempt to turn caregiving into comfort instead of crisis which involves lowering the bar of compliance even further than before. Whatever makes us feel comfortable is okay even if it is wearing slippers instead of shoes, eating with a spoon or even fingers, leaving the table during the meal or emitting unecessary mouth noises. Let's try to find some joy in caregiving for 2013.