What to Do if Your Family’s Disappointed You Aren’t Visiting This Holiday Season

The holidays are a time of wonder, joy, and tough decisions. Where we go and with whom we spend our time can sometimes leave our friends and family feeling lonely, if not actually alone. Even when we know we’ve made the right decision for ourselves, it can be difficult to process and bring up feelings of guilt or doubt. 

Yet when it comes to our most important relationships, there are ways to navigate these decisions and consequences that can leave everyone feeling more loved and connected. The Floracracy experience can be a part of that solution, turning something that feels draining into a place for growth, connection, and peace. Read on to learn how. 

Start with Understanding 

If someone feels disappointed because we’re spending time with other family or friends instead of them (or choosing to visit no one), they may have an underlying fear of not being valued enough or not being worthy of our time. This can sometimes be compounded with resentment.

Faced with these difficult emotions, we may feel backed into a corner, forced to make choices we don’t really want to or make us feel just plain old guilty. This, then, may shut down or impede the communication flow and can worsen the situation because it sets us up for the exact opposite of what we were hoping for in the first place, a joyous and fun-filled holiday. Sometimes to prevent this situation from getting out of hand, we have to start with understanding.

To have a sense of understanding, we have to ask ourselves what’s being lost here. There is the fact that family traditions aren’t happening. There is the fear that they feel they are not as important as they thought they were. There is the worry and anxiety about the day itself, loneliness, and possibly the worry of how to pass the time. All of these fears are about stories. It’s about old stories and memories that suddenly feel threatened, and it’s about new stories (the future) that are being played out in their brain in a context of worry and anxiety. 

The first step to turning this around is to acknowledge the disappointment. It is valid and genuine (quite possibly for us as well) and shouldn’t be minimized or dismissed. Saying things like, “You mean the world to me, and I look forward to spending time with you at another time” or “I’m so sorry to disappoint you and look forward to making it up to you” can be helpful. However, further, in-depth communication is key to turning regrets and apologies into a meaningful holiday. 

We can transform the aforementioned negative mental cycle even from a distance, and precisely because it’s us who decided not to come. All we have to do is meet their negative stories/worries with our positive ones: 

  • - Positive descriptions of the person (their talents, their art). 
  • - Memories of previous holidays and what we loved about them. 
  • - What we love most about the person and what we’ll miss. 

There’s a powerful reason we want to share positive words like this. Research shared in the book Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman  shows that when we read positive words about ourselves, our body temperature elevates to mimic human touch. Yup, you heard that right. Simply by writing down these stories and statements, we can (even from a distance) create the sensation that we’re standing right there holding the person.

On the receiving end, sensing this touch is powerful. We can go even further, in terms of the experience if we also create other sensory and emotional elements of the story.  Then the recipient has something that feels bigger than the ordinary day, something that can be repeated or practiced and remembered. 

How to Share Stories 

A great way to share stories is through one of Floracracy’s limited-edition holiday experiences. Each one includes free help writing your letter from our concierge team and free design help (with a special gift included). We recommend that you select a flower that symbolically represents a story you want to share or a particular thing for which you’re most grateful. Some examples include:

  • - Your friend or loved one’s sense of humor 
  • - That they’re so devoted to their family 
  • - That they bring so much joy to your life 

In your letter, share why this is important to you. Be as specific as you can. The letter does not have to be that long, but details make a difference. A lovely way to construct the letter is to follow these steps: 

  1. 1. Write about the context of where you are (I’m sitting at the table in my kitchen, drinking coffee like we’ve done so many times together). 
  2. 2. Share a story or memory of something for which you’re grateful. 
  3. 3. End with why this is important, or the flower meaning that you selected. 

This letter is a gift to which the recipient can return over and over. The flowers make the gift of your shared story visually real. For instance, expressing how much joy they bring you can be represented by a strategically placed delphinium (which stands for joy). It is visually right before them. They can connect with it, reflect on it, touch it, smile with it. This tactile dynamic introduces even more benefits, including helping with depression and loneliness. 

As the holiday season approaches and we are making these difficult decisions on where to be and who to see, we can rest easy knowing that we have the option of being present, even from a distance, through sending heartwarming stories and beautiful, meaningful visuals. Our loved ones can feel our presence from wherever we are and know that they are deeply loved. And isn’t love the greatest gift of all?

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