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December 18, 2014
by Marti Wormuth, MA

How Do I Focus on Family During the Holidays?

December 18, 2014 04:55 by Marti Wormuth, MA  [About the Author]

The holiday season can be a difficult time for many of us, especially those of us who have family members and friends who we want to see and spend time with on a regular basis. That being said, there are a lot of things that we have to get done over the holiday season, and sometimes, we lose focus on what we should be focusing on during this time of year. We get so caught up in the excitement and the "doing" that we forget about the people that we love and want to be around on a regular basis. That being said, there's a lot of things that we can do in order to keep that focus on our loved ones in a healthy way, and that's what we're going to look at here. 

Why Do We Lose Focus Through The Holidays?

There are a lot of reasons that we may lose focus through the holiday season. One of the most prominent is that there are a lot of things that need to be done before we can get through the season. We have people coming over, we have to buy presents, we are traveling, we're wrapping up work before vacation, and a lot of other things can get in the way of enjoying the people around us that we love. There is just so much to do, and we forget to spend time with our families and friends in the midst of it. Sometimes, our loved ones just want us to be present, and that's harder at this time of year than it is at any other.

Another reason that we may lose focus is because of hardships that may have happened in the past year. I've talked about this in other articles, but losing a friend or family member hurts a lot during the holiday season. You may feel lost or alone, or you may feel like you aren't able to get through it without your loved one being there. There could have been other difficulties as well. Someone may have lost a job or may have gotten sick. I remember the last Christmas before my mom passed away, she was ill and it really made the holidays difficult for everyone in our family because it was just looming over our heads. That worry can just make us lose our focus, or feel like we want to run away for a time because it's too hard to deal with. Either way, it just makes it miserable for us to focus on those we love because we're focused on how difficult this year is going to be or other issues.

Another reason we lose focus is because the holidays have become incredibly commercialized. There are a lot of things that are going on around us. We think about getting more, more, more instead of enjoying the company of those around us. Sadly, this is hard to break, but if you can find a way to get out of it and focus on your loved ones instead of all the stuff and things that you can have, it's going to help everyone a lot and everyone is going to enjoy the holiday a lot more as well. 

It may be hard to learn how to refocus, but if you are conscious of it and you make sure that you are prepared to overcome some of the challenges that may happen because of losing focus during the holiday season, you will be able to enjoy it that much more. Focusing on the family is difficult, so if you make sure that you nip it in the bud before the holiday season gets started, you will be able to start traditions and such that you can enjoy as a family throughout the years, most of which can help you to stay focused on your family. 

How Can I Keep the Focus on my Family?

So, of course, the question always arises. How do you keep your focus on your family? It's one thing to say that you're going to focus on your family more, but it's another thing to actually do it in a way that is effective and that you can enjoy together as a family. I hope that the tips that I bring forward here will help you learn how you can refocus your efforts on your family and friends, and that you can modify and use them for your own purposes. Have fun with it, that's the important part of this whole thing - you're supposed to just enjoy one another. 

Sit down and communicate with the members of your family about what's going on this holiday season. If there's something different going on with your family, either because someone has passed away, someone got married or had kids, someone is unable to make it, or someone has moved, then make sure you're talking about it. People don't like surprises sprung on them at the last minute - just make sure that you're communicating with each other, telling one another how you feel about what's going on, and figuring out exactly how you want to go forward with this time of the year. Help everyone to feel like they can be open about their thoughts and feelings, as well. 

Find time to relax and enjoy each other's presence, instead of focusing on presents. People are important, whether they're your family or your friends. So instead of focusing on how much money you're going to spend on each of your kids, consider taking time with each of them individually to let them know how much you love them. Yes, presents are great and exchanging them is absolutely fine, but you want to make sure that you are focusing on the people more than the material objects. Material objects will fade away and you will lose interest, but those around you will be around as long as you and they are alive on this world. 

Make sure that you are flexible, especially if there are family changes that you weren't expecting to happen in the past year. Flexibility is important. If there are things that are changing (this especially happens if a child gets married or has kids), you have to be ready to make compromises. I have a friend whose family had to adapt some things when she and her husband got married. Both sides had to get used to them traveling on Christmas day so that they could spend parts of the day with both of their families - and they were in two different states! Their families had to adapt to that. Of course, make sure you set boundaries as well - don't allow your family members to walk all over you in the name of "flexibility." 

Consider creating a family tradition that doesn't necessarily include spending money - do something that you all can enjoy together! One thing that I absolutely loved about my family was that, even though we did presents and dinner, we spent the afternoon at my grandmother's house playing all sorts of board and card games. This was something that we did every holiday in the winter (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years). And on Easter, we'd go to the park and play baseball together. It was a lot of fun, and we all got to enjoy one another's company, for absolutely no cost. What does your family enjoy doing together, and how can you integrate that into your holiday season? 

Be loving and gentle throughout the season, even if you are encountering people that you may not enjoy the company of otherwise. There are family members that I don't like, there are family members that you don't like. Sometimes, we just don't get along with people. And that is perfectly fine. But that doesn't mean that you spend the whole Thanksgiving dinner bashing them because they left early before the meal was even ready (this happened to my family several times when I was growing up). Even if you aren't fond of someone, they are still a human being worthy of respect and kindness, especially during a time of year focused on joy. So be kind to everyone around you, even if you're stressed or frustrated. 

The holidays can be hard for a lot of people, and because of that, it's important for us to get the help that we need if the holidays are hard. Look for a qualified therapist in your area that can help you work through some of the pain that people feel during this time of year. Get some help finding your focus again from a qualified professional, and enjoy the holidays that you should be enjoying. 


Gray, S. (2013, November). 5 Tips to Help Your Marriage During the Holidays. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from

Juergenson-Sheets, C. (2013). Prioritizing for the Holidays. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from

Milofsky, J. (2013). Make emotional health a priority during the holidays. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from

Smead. (2013). 10 Tips for Staying Focused at Work During the Holidays. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from

Wayne. (2012, December 16). Remembering What’s Important During the Holidays: Family. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from

About the Author

Marti Wormuth, MA Marti Wormuth, MA

Marti has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s in Communication Studies. Her favorite activities include reading, playing games, and hanging out with the students at her church. Marti volunteers with the youth ministry at her church as a teacher and mentor. Because of this, she recently started another degree, her graduate certificate in student ministries. She considers her current graduate work to be a stepping stone to becoming a youth pastor or a published author.

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