Holiday Dialogues

We think of holidays as times of joy and family connection.  Memories of delicious meals and visions of children happily opening gifts are dear to our heart.  Unfortunately holidays can also be a time of stress and disappointment.  We tend to hold ourselves and each other to high standards, and when we don’t live up to them we may feel badly about ourselves and sometimes take it out on each other.  In addition to good memories holidays often hold memories of disconnect, disappointment and pain.  When we don’t talk about them, painful memories and feelings from years past tend to sabotage the present.  Below you will find two dialogues.  The first is appropriate to share with your partner before any major holiday.  It invites you to be conscious and intentional about the holiday experience you want to create and to discuss how to support each other in that process.  The second is appropriate to use after any holiday, vacation or major event to process what happened, both the good and the bad.  It invites you to claim what you did right, to explore what wasn’t what you had hoped for and to think about how to handle it better in the future.  Print them out and use whenever you need them.

Let me know if they are helpful…

Holiday Traditions

What I loved about this holiday as a child

If relevant, what was tough about this holiday when I was growing up, or share any painful memories associated with the holiday

What I love about how we have celebrated this holiday in the past

One worry I have about the holidays this year

One way I’m hoping we can support each other this year

One thing you can do to keep me safe

One thing I could do to keep you safe

My dream for the holiday this year


Processing a trip or holiday or party

What I like most about how we handled ____________ is

What was difficult for me about it was

What we might do differently next time is

If we could do that what I imagine would change is

What I appreciated about you during _____________ was

What I was proud of or pleased about how I handled things was

As I think about the overall experience what I am feeling in my body is….

Posted by Laura

Laura Marshall, LCSW, is the founder and director of the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy. Her experience spans thirty years of supporting couples and individuals to create healthy and meaningful lives and relationships. She is also adjunct faculty for the New Mexico Highlands School of Social Work. She lives with her husband Steve and five sons in Farmington, New Mexico.

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