Holiday’s mean time off from our day jobs to celebrate over good food, wine and an endless array of sweet treats. Yay! It also generally means celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with family and for some that can be more torture than fun. You know…the embarrassing uncle, the aunt with the world against her, and of course, the cousin who requires everyone’s attention. You don’t need to check the guest list, you know they will all be there squished together in grandmas tiny house for hours on end. Short of purchasing a ticket to a peaceful destination on the other side of the world, here are five tips to help you keep your cool and survive the holiday season with family.
Don’t take it personally
Believe it or not, most people are not intentionally out to drive us crazy and spoil the family gatherings. You’re generally not the reason they are shoving advice down your throat, trying to get one over you or attempting to make a joke out of everything you say. Usually, this extends from personal issues that go way back and have little relevance to you. Unfortunately, you just might be their latest target or their one and only target! So don’t take it personally. Stay calm, shrug it off and move on. Just remember you only have to be in the same room for a short period of time in the whole scheme of things. Ignore the hypocritical remarks, let them have their moment and practice the art of detachment.
Grit your teeth and remain pleasant
Avoid getting caught up the gossip or making a joke of one of your family members. Don’t push people’s buttons or give someone the satisfaction of getting frustrated and angry which will inevitably end in a fight. If you are hosting the family gathering, this is especially important as it is your duty to make sure everyone has a great day, is comfortable and you have a friendly atmosphere, not a boxing match.
Have a little compassion
It’s true what they say, you can’t choose your family, but you can have a little compassion and let your negative thoughts about them go. Don’t pretend to get along or highlight the fact you can’t stand to be in the same room or inflame any arguments. Just let it be and perhaps put yourself in their shoes. Imagine why the person might be acting that way. Maybe there is a good reason for their behavior. Perhaps they are experiencing financial strain or a relationship breakdown. Maybe there is a history of depression or they have recently lost their job. Whatever the underlying reason, family holidays tend to be pretty tough going, so try and give them a chance to improve, do something different or possibly break the ice with a little humor.
Keep an eye on your alcohol consumption
There is no secret, when you have a few more drinks than normal, you become a little more relaxed and confident. This can quickly turn into loose lips and before you know it you might be fueling someone’s fire and saying a whole lot you might live to regret.
If you are hosting the holiday celebration, keep alcohol to a minimum ensuring everyone has enough for a toast and to accompany their meal. An open bar could lead to a very unruly day!
Take a breather
When you feel like you might be on the brink of snapping, bursting into tears or joining the ‘mean girls’ club, it might be time to take a breather. Step outside, chill out in another room or lock yourself in the bathroom to do some simple breathing and collect yourself. Spend time with the people you do get along with, even if that means you need to move around the table between courses, away from those who you don’t. Remind yourself this is one of the few times of the year you have to endure the family members who drive you crazy and before you know it, you will be back surrounded by like-minded people you choose to socialize with.
In every family there is always one person who rubs people the wrong way. Hopefully, these tips will keep you from letting one or two people ruin your holiday festivities. Happy holidays!