Apologies from me right from the beginning. When I suggest you stay conscious over Christmas and the holidays, I'm not implying you are about to go on some binge-drinking marathon, where the outcome is that you wind up unconscious. (But hey, if that's your plan....)
I was thinking instead about what it takes to get through the holidays, come out the other end, still reasonably sane, and having had a good time. In our corner of the world - as is the case in many western countries - Christmas and/or the holiday season is about getting together for at least some of the time with extended family, relaxing and hanging out in ways that we mostly do not have the time to do during the course of the year. And in the mix, there's also a reasonable amount of duty and tradition that drives us to do this. Mostly this is a fun and relaxing time of the year. After all, these are our people, this is our tribe.
But the flip side of this, is that even though we do want to be with them, it does not always mean things are going to run smoothly. They can be annoying/feisty/argumentative people. Chances are, we can probably be some of these things ourselves. Old patterns and ways of relating from years gone by can re-surface, and hook us right back in. This is especially so when families get together over extended periods of time, such as at Christmas, but have limited contact in between times, meaning relationships can kind of hang in suspension from year to year, neither getting worse, but not getting any better, as no-one is around each other in a "real" way. And add some alcohol to the formula, to fire things up further, if you must.
Mostly though, you are probably going to enjoy yourself - whether it's just going to be Christmas day, or if you are getting together for longer. But if you suspect, from what you've seen in years gone by, and what you know of your family, that you may not have such a flash time, that it will be stressful, and you are more likely going along out of duty, it might be more manageable for you, if you decide in advance, to go into it (or not), by making the decision consciously.
What does this mean? A key thing here is to be conscious and committed about what you are actually planning to do. In other words, make some thoughtful and conscious decisions in advance as to what you want to have happen for yourself. For instance if you've been invited to have Christmas lunch with extended family, whom you know will wind up loudly arguing after two glasses of wine - make a firm and conscious decision before you go, along the lines of: "yes, I'm going to go, because I've chosen to, and I plan to go all out to enjoy myself, no matter what. This might mean drinking with them, or even arguing with them, as I know what they are like. But my plan is to enjoy myself. My bottom line is that I will not arrive there, then regret being there, resent them, then come home afterwards and complain about them to whoever will listen." Or make an equally conscious decision not to go - again having weighed up what is best for yourself.
And should you decide to do the family thing - it's important that you are a Conscious Grown Up. A fancy way of saying don't revert to old patterns, don't behave in the age-old way that family members might expect you to behave, whenever you all get together. Examples of common family roles that can dog us for life, are being the in-charge/super responsible older sibling, or the incompetent baby of the family who can do nothing right in the eyes of older siblings.
Christmas holidays (and life, for that matter) work better for us when we make informed and conscious choices for ourselves, rather than getting getting continually caught up in doing "the right thing", and then feeling conflicted and generally lousy, both during the event, and then for weeks or even months afterwards.
When we consciously and thoughtfully decide what is best for us at a personal level, we are demonstrating to the world (but to ourselves first and foremost) that we are in charge of our lives.
So - have a great Christmas, or whatever else you consciously decide to do!
"Some occasional thoughts about families, relationships, and other things that distract us...."