Relationships & Stuffing

I can’t believe it’s just five days until Christmas.  There’s something about this season that’s a push and pull, a dichotomy of sorts.  People rushing around, stuck in holiday traffic so we can hurry up and relax with family.  Perhaps a little bit of stress about organizing family time so every one gets their fair share.  Planning all the meals and what to bring.  Rush around, relax, rush around, relax.

Andrew and I just got back from a week long camping trip in south Texas.  We went from the noise of the city to leaves blowing in the wind, crickets at night and the crackle of campfire.  We’ve been so busy since we’ve been home, dinners every night, me teaching yoga and Andrew picking up commercial jobs.  We went from the quiet and slow life of the road to a crazy busy schedule.  It’s been fun being with family and friends, we wouldn’t change a thing, but I guess what I’m trying to say is… to be blunt, relationships are work.  I think this reveals itself in the holidays.  You truly want to hang out with family, but sometimes it’s a little strained.  Sometimes little arguments spring up and they seem to come out of nowhere.  But it’s the holidays!!  Everything is suppose to be perfect and joyful like a Christmas card!!

Dawn over Jackson Lake

Andrew and I work really well together.  Conversation is never forced, we know each other’s quirks and moods.  I’ve gotten really good at being with him.  Heck, we spend 24/7 with each other on the road.  I get back into civilization, surround myself with people and am like, oh, this can be hard sometimes.  Is it just me or do you feel the same way around the holidays?

I know part of it is because we’ve gone from one extreme to another.  No people, to people every day and night.  A transition time is expected.  I don’t want to come off as saying people are totally annoying to me and all relationships are hard.  I’m just trying to force out this feeling…  This feeling that it takes work to maintain relationships.  It takes work to get out of your little world and enter into someone else’s life.  It takes work to deal with quirks and moods of other people.  It takes work to make yourself vulnerable with others.  It’s much easier to get with your one person who you got all this figured out with.  And to, you know, run away to the mountains.  It takes work to enter into the city and deal with people on a daily basis.  The moody lady at the grocery store.  The crazy driver who cuts you off.  Or the extra talkative person next to you in line.  It’s much easier to check out on your phone instead of engaging.

Then family.  Yall, family can be hard.  I got in a yelling match with my Dad over the radio.  It was not pretty.  We went to our separate corners, came back and apologized and everything was ok.  But it wasn’t about the dang radio.  We’ve been living with them since we’ve gotten back.  They are the best most gracious hosts.  But I, like most people, like my little world exactly the way I want it.  And I don’t always do best with a new element.  I realized that I was having little issues with my Dad over small stuff that I didn’t think was worth bringing up.  I stuffed it down and then next thing you know I’m yelling at him about the radio.


The holidays throw you into close contact with people, in their homes, the table is set beautifully, the work is done and next thing you know you’re frustrated with the person sitting across from you.  There’s politics.  There’s drinking.  There’s expectations of how the day is suppose to go.  There’s sharing an oven and getting everything out ok.  There’s leftover frustration caused from the crazy traffic on the way there.  There’s glossed over issues that are never talked about.  There’s deep family history that rears it’s ugly head for some reason over ham and stuffing.

I have found for me part of the battle is being ok with admitting to myself that relationships are hard.  I feel a little bit of guilt saying this.  But they are!  I feel like I’m somewhat less than because it takes extra effort for me to reach out to others.  I’m a true introvert.  I recharge alone, or with just Andrew.   It’s takes time and work to keep a relationship strong.  Since I’ve been home I’ve been reminding myself that I care about this person, I want to get into their world and they are worth the work.

If you find yourself closing in during the holidays or getting stressed seemingly out of nowhere, give yourself the freedom by acknowledging the fact that relationships can be hard.  Andrew and I read this book in our pre-marital counseling titled “What did you Expect.”  It is a must read.  It talks about expectations in a relationship.  Met and unmet.  One concept that stuck out to me is he said the foundation doesn’t usually tear apart with an earthquake or tornado.  It’s the little cracks in it that are never addressed, never talked about, that don’t seem like a big deal, that tear apart a home.  If you don’t take the time and effort to confront someone you love over those little issues, next thing you know you’ll be yelling over the Cowboys game or on your way home from a choir concert.  Good gracious.

Fall colors and Tetons from Pilgrim Creek

Things can be building up all year and the holidays are stressful.  They are not a picture perfect, It’s a Wonderful Life kind of thing.  Ask yourself, what expectations are you building for Christmas?  How do you expect the conversation to go?  Expectations for how your home is suppose to look, when people are suppose to arrive, how the table will be set, etc.  What do you imagine the time looking like?  Are you setting unrealistic expectations?  Are you putting too much on people?  Too much on yourself?

I’ve learned a lot in just the short amount of time we lived on the road.  I’ve learned that you don’t really need much to survive.  Walking underneath the trees is extremely therapeutic.  You are in more control of what you surround yourself with then you realize.  And that relationships can be hard but they are worth the work.

So over the holidays, give yourself a break on the expectations, put in the effort to work through the small stuff, take the time to enter into someone else’s world, and have a Merry Christmas!!

Dallas Divide

2 thoughts on “Relationships & Stuffing

  1. Debi Morton

    So good, Ellen! Whether we see family once a year or once a week, we need to work on relationships in the ways you say here. And then, of course, the big one–Lord, give me patience! We shouldn’t stuff the little things down, but often we do just need to let them go. Pick your battles carefully and wisely.

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