By Susan Gately - 26 December, 2014
Many parents suffer stress at this time of the year because they have created too high expectations, or have placed too high expectations of themselves.
Whether or not this is the case, it is not too late to save Christmas, advises a well-known commentator on family life.
Stephen Cardy from Focus on the Family says that even if people have created expectations which are too unreasonable in the end what will really remain with their children and others, is the face to face time they spend together at Christmas.
“Children will remember time spent playing cards or board games, rather than the hours in front of TV or playing computer games,” he told CatholicIreland.net.
“We need to find ways where connections can take place.”
He advises families to spend time at Christmas “doing things together” rather than time sitting watching TV.
“Our sense of value and worth is wrapped up with the people nearest and dearest to us. If the connections are made, it strengthens identity and recharges our batteries.”
Even when there are moments of anger over the ten days of Christmas, he advises families to “remember the good times and the skirmishes are soon forgotten.”
In relation to spending time with someone who has been bereaved in the year leading up to Christmas, Mr Cardy advises allowing the person to speak about the one he or she is missing. “Acknowledge the person and talk about their character. It is an emotional time.”
He recalls the Christmas after his own father died. He was aged 15 and a good friend of his mother invited the family for Christmas dinner. “It meant a lot to us all,” he said, “we never forgot her kindness.”
He also advises families to visit elderly friends, neighbours or relatives over Christmas.
“It is ennobling to give to someone else who needs your help and it is rewarding. God has designed us like this – to give. It is really worthwhile not to leave a lonely person or a person in a tough spot on their own over Christmas.