The holiday season is full of fun, family, and love, isn’t it? For me, it’s always been a magical time, full of traditions, lights, and goodies. Holiday parties are a great time, and if we don’t live locally, this time of year may be one of the only times that we get to see family. But getting a lot of different people together with different thoughts and opinions can be frustrating, to say the least. And it can certainly, and easily, cause stress. So how do we go about handling holiday stress so that we can have enjoyable family holidays with our loved ones?
First of all, I think the most important thing to remember is that the holidays are about making memories with family. Now, obviously we want those to be good memories and not bad ones; but we also need to realize that getting many different people with different ideas and opinions is not going to be flawless. There may be some offensive speak, there may be some hurtful talk, and there may be some ignorance and arrogance sprinkled in there. And for some people, family is downright crazy. You’ve got opposite political parties (Lord help us during election years), you’ve got religious differences, you have the extremely inappropriate people, and you’ve got ones who just don’t get along. Been there. So how do we go into the holiday season prepared to make it as cheerful as possible?
Enjoyable Family Holidays
- Bite Your Tongue – There are several times when an argument at a holiday get-together can be avoided by simply not engaging. I’m in no way saying you should be a doormat, but if a slightly delusional, rude, or older relative mentions your most recent breakup, how wild your kids are, or that stubborn weight gain; instead of getting mad and starting an argument, may I suggest an oh-so-passive “well, bless your heart”. They’ll be confused, and you’ll know what it really meant 😉
- Hide in the Kitchen – This can be SO useful. If everyone is gathering in one room, there’s bound to be someone who says something offensive or hurtful eventually, even if it’s well-meaning. (But while we’re on the topic, it’s NEVER well-meaning to mention someone’s appearance in a negative way. Seriously, WHY IS THIS A THING?!) So hiding in the kitchen will definitely cost you something in the form of labor, but you’ll be able to avoid whatever madness is happening where everyone else is hanging out.
- Invent Games – When things get tense or boring, my husband and I tend to speak in movie quotes (usually from a kids movie like Cars) to each other as a distraction, and it can definitely be entertaining for us. Shooooooot. It’s usually not noticeable to the other people, so we end up having some good giggles to ourselves and it really just makes it more fun.
- Drink Wine – I know, I know. Encouraging people to drink so they’ll get along better is not always the best thing; but it can be a successful plan if used right. Obviously, this can go horribly wrong if too much is consumed, because excess booze tends to bring along it’s friends; excess anger and excess emotion. But there are just some relatives that just go better with a good
bottleglass of Merlot, and who am I to say any differently? 😉
- Set Time Limits – Some of you may not be able to do this, but if your family is particularly difficult; time limits are your friend. Maybe you have to see multiple families in one day, or maybe you need to see a friend or have your own special thing going on. This can be really useful to minimize stress, especially if you’re in a situation where the tension is high, or if there’s some relatives that you just don’t get along with. “Oh, I thought I told you about this! We have to be at so-and-so’s house by 4!” Sometimes, saving a relationship involves limiting face-to-face time. No shame.
Now, obviously not all of these fit for every family or situation. In the spirit of full disclosure; I’m not the expert in gloriously cheerful family get-togethers. I wouldn’t even know what that looks like. So I hope you take comfort in that nobody completely escapes total family dysfunction during the holidays. So we’re all in the trenches with you. Drinking wine. Rolling our eyes. In solidarity. 😉
What is your favorite fun way to deal with stress during the holidays?