Midlife Advice

Readers.com asked midlife topic experts to share special advice on everything from healthy living to planning for retirement. Our experts’ uplifting stories will inspire you to approach every situation with a Glass(es) Half Full mentality, so check back each month for more in this series and like us on Facebook for additional tips! 

Meet Dr. Ramani Durvasula, our latest Glass(es) Half Full contributor! Dr. Ramani is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor of psychology, and relationship expert. Read her guest post below for advice on how to make the most of the holidays!

Enjoying the holidays

Dr. Ramani Durvasula

Dr. Ramani Durvasula

The holidays can spin out of control as we get older, our families grow, and our expectations get bigger. I think we all realize that the sweet spot and magic of the holidays is found in the experiences and not in the stuff (we’ve taken enough trips to Goodwill to recognize what happens to those gifts!). Here are my six tips to continue holiday traditions as your family gets bigger!

1. Trim it down.

As families get bigger, the gift-giving expectations can spin out of control. I have observed that large families will often do a gift exchange where they pick names out of a hat and set a budget.

2. Pay attention and build on the traditions you have in place.

Some families have traditions that are as old as the hills. You might feel like you don’t have any tradition, but you probably do! You just might not have realized that after 10 years of doing the same things, traditions are formed.

I am divorced, and yet my ex and I keep some key holiday traditions in place. One of our daughters is in high school, but her dad still leaves carrots and bells in his front lawn and the girls go look for them on Christmas morning (with some fake eye-rolling but tremendous appreciation). The family structure may have changed, but those traditions act as the glue that keeps us all connected. Cookie baking, tree trimming, menorah lighting — these simple things matter!

3. Make it about the kids.

The treasure of the holidays is watching adults make time for kids and seeing kids just be kids. Focus on the throwback elements of the holidays. For most of us, the holidays are an evocative time. Think about what you loved as a kid and what you wish had been different. Then, make it happen!

4. Don’t forget your friends.

The frenzied focus on family is lovely, but remember all of the people who are there for you the rest of the year, too. For many of us, particularly as we get older, it is our friends we rely on. Don’t lose that during the holiday season. Whether it’s a getaway, a party, a night out, or a gift exchange, make sure you celebrate your friends!

5. Give back.

Every agency in town hosts holiday events, and it can be wonderful to give back whether at a meal program or by providing gifts to families in need. It is a reminder of what this time of year should be about. Bonus points if you find a way to engage your family’s younger generations as well!

6. Let it go.

Lives and families change over time, and traditions might too. Your daughter may spend the holidays with her in-laws or you might lose a family member. Don’t make the holidays about ego and perceived rejection — be nimble and flexible in the face of change and find new ways to celebrate.

Thank you to Dr. Ramani Durvasula for sharing her advice with us just in time for the holidays! Be sure to stop by her website for more advice on everything from relationships to health and wellness.