The Space Between Dreams
How’s this for setting the tone for your Thanksgiving and holiday travels: Call the people you’ll be visiting or hosting and ask them what they want. I’m not talking about presents (though in the end it may feel to someone like you’ve given them one) but hopes and dreams. While I recommend this for any group of gatherers it’s especially profound and powerful when it’s a new (e.g. meeting your partners’ extended family), a strained relationship or even a trip you dread. Ask and really listen. Deeply. What is it that they long for? This question is a catalyst. It will establish or affirm your connection, let them know they matter and give you a sense of their hopes and expectations. It’s those unspoken but deeply held expectations that can trip us up, whether they are other people’s expectations or our own. Notice where their dreams overlap, intersect and diverge from your own.
Let’s say you ask and get answers completely out of alignment with your hopes and dreams for the visit. Excellent! Knowing their desires helps you plan which areas of their dream you’d like to honor and also see where it branches off from yours. These branches are key to harmony for the holidays. Make a plan to use the spaces in between your shared dreams to fulfill your hopes and needs, whether it’s down time to recharge (hello introverts!), connecting with other people who are part of your holiday dream or catching some couple time with your partner.
Let your host/guest know about your plan and see how it sounds to them. I suggest pointing out how you are looking forward to the shared hopes and dreams (i.e. getting to know them better, learning how to knit, etc…). Validate the parts of their dream that are not shared, even if you have no interest. Let them know you get how important those parts are to them and that you encourage the experience for them. If it’s a piece you’d like to sit out, let them know you would like to use that time to honor some of the things that are important to you. Be flexible if you can or if it feels right. Be firm where you need to be. Be empathetic all around.
This either works out simply lovely or it can become the start of a conversation sharing what’s important to you. But most importantly, you’re having the conversation; in advance; reducing unwelcome surprises and holiday disappointments. Make the call, the connection and honor the dreams.
Want more? My Home for the Holidays Survival Program starts November 23rd. You'll be relieved.