Christmas is just around the corner. Many families have a tradition of spending Christmas Day together. Presents will be opened, dinner will be served, and alcohol will be passed around. All this togetherness can be an excellent opportunity to connect with your relatives, especially the ones whom you do not get to see very often. Unless, of course, your family doesn’t get along with each other very well.
Let’s face it, there are a lot of us who are dreading having to spend all that “quality time” with family members this Christmas, because we are anticipating that there will be a lot of drama, uncomfortable emotional outbursts, or even arguments. If you have been through one too many stressful Christmases, and don’t know how you are going to survive this one, you are going to need a plan. You cannot make your bickering relatives suddenly decide to get along with each other, but, there are some things you can do to help yourself get through another difficult Christmas dinner.
Be realistic If you know that your family gets into vitriolic disagreements whenever they are in the same room for more than five minutes, then you know what to expect. No matter how badly you are hoping that this year will be the year that your family magically turns into the perfect family from some Classic Christmas movie, you need to realize that this is just not going to happen. Going in with too high of an expectation about how your family will behave is a good way to get your heart broken, again.
Don’t bring up controversial topics.
This is where your knowledge of family history is going to be to your benefit. Keep in mind which relatives have a long standing “war” going on with each other. This will allow you to avoid getting drawn into conversations that are an attempt to make you choose sides in that old, ongoing, argument. Today is not the day to attempt to convince your family that their political or religious views are wrong, and that they should change them to match your views. You may also want to avoid talking about sports teams. My family has a lot of die hard Sox fans, and a handful of die hard Cubs fans. One mention of either team can make sparks fly.
Plan some breaks for yourself.
Mom says she is running out of ice? Volunteer to drive to the store to pick up more for her. Bring one family member with you, whom you usually get along with, and make your escape. The two of you can easily make the trip to the store last ten minutes longer than might be necessary, without being missed. This is a great time to connect with that family member, perhaps by joking about plans to simply drive home from the store, never to return to the family gathering at all!
Image by Laura Bittner on Flickr