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Holiday Survival Guide

by Lori Sciame November 17th, 2017 | Relationships
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Fran y MeliSoon the holiday season will be in full swing.  There will be presents to buy, special treats to bake, and parties to attend.  While many of the parties will be filled with good cheer and laughter, some will seem more like funeral wakes – complete with morose faces and mumbled greetings.  If this sounds familiar, then take the time to read this post.  Learn a few tips on how to survive a less than perfect family celebration.

Reject Emotional Blackmail

The first key to survival involves stopping emotional blackmail in its tracks.  In essence, don’t let yourself be bullied.  For instance, maybe your mother-in-law breaks down into a sobbing mess when you assert that this year you plan to visit your family for the holidays.  Don’t let her win!

If a young couple gives in to a parent’s every demand, they will never be able to establish independence.  And offenders will learn that all it takes is a bit of acting to get whatever they want.

Instead, be fair.  Map out a plan for the holiday season that works for your own family first, then figure out a way to include both sets of parents/grandparents in the festivities in some manner.  That may mean spending Thanksgiving with one side of the family, Christmas at home, and New Year’s with the other side of the family.

Avoid Slipping into Old Roles

Being an adult can be difficult – especially when returning to a hometown family celebration. Resist the pressure to morph back into the role you played while a child in your family unit.  Just because you were pegged as the family clown, doesn’t mean you need to act that way as an adult.  Or if your family still views you as a child as you hold the distinction of being the youngest sibling, you don’t have to feed into that false assumption by acting immature.

Slipping into old roles may feel comfortable for some.  This is especially true for the “favorite” child; however, these roles need not define who you are now.

Let Go of Old Hurts

Some family members carry grudges to the grave.  A slight in childhood, then, can make for many years of painful family gatherings.  Choose instead to let go of petty conflicts.  Doing this will translate into better relationships now.

This is easier to do if you are the one carrying unnecessary baggage. It’s not so easy if an aunt or sibling brings negativity to each party attended. One solution may be to discuss the problem before the actual meeting. Another solution: give the person permission not to attend.

Lower Expectations

A final piece of sage advice: lower your expectations of family gatherings.  Not every family bonds like the perfect families seen on television, and that is OK.  Each family has its own dynamic to be respected.  Maybe your family bakes together or has a snowman building contest.  Whatever your traditions, place the focus on being together, and honor the link that makes you a family in the first place.

 

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Comments One Response to “Holiday Survival Guide”
  1. Michele says:

    This is such sound advice! I agree that is important to set your family traditions and then determine how to fit grandparents into the holidays. While I think grandparents should be part of your plans, you also don’t want your children to spend all of the holiday heading from one house to the next and never getting to enjoy the celebration at their own home with their own presents.

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