The holidays often evoke warm memories of time spent around a table with family and friends. But just as frequently, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are when the crazy in all of us comes out. From fighting over who hosts dinner to screaming matches over political disagreements, the holidays are too often reduced to a time when we show little love for our families. If you want to minimize stress and fighting at the holiday season, here are the five rules you must follow:
Not Everything Warrants a Response
A simple rule of life is that it takes two people to fight. And most of us have at least one friend or relative who brings out the worst in us, whether it’s through snide remarks, invasive questions, or political disagreements. Remember that, if you end up fighting with this person, you are just as much to blame as they are, and don’t take the bait. Not every rude remark or annoyance warrants a response from you, so bite your tongue whenever and wherever possible.
Other People’s Lives Are Not For Judging
Different people choose to live different ways, and odds are good that there’s at least one person in your family who you simply don’t understand. But the holidays are not a time for judging other people or questioning their choices. Embrace the uniqueness and eccentricity in your family, and avoid making judging comments about others.
No Turf Wars
No one should get a monopoly on the holiday spirit, and especially in blended families, there’s often a huge fight about who eats dinner where and at what time. These turf wars don’t serve anyone. Be willing to cede some control and make an attempt to spend some quality time with everyone you care about, even if their idea of quality time does not perfectly match the picture you have in your head. If you’re not engaging in a turf war but instead are watching one unfold, be willing to intervene in a nonconfrontational and friendly way that allows everyone to get a little bit of what they want and requires everyone to compromise a bit.
Everyone Has a Holiday Dream
Everyone has an image in their head of the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Problems arise when different people’s pictures conflict. For some, the ideal meal is a quiet dinner with only close family. Others want a rollicking party complete with caroling and lots of alcohol. Some families relish a vegetarian tofurkey feast while others want to grill out. These different pictures of holiday bliss don’t have to conflict with one another and don’t have to be cause for drama. Remember that, just as you have your holiday dream, so does everyone else in your family, and these dreams don’t have to be exactly the same. Try to incorporate a bit of everyone’s tradition and find a way to give everyone a small piece of what they want. The result will be a unique holiday celebration that is truly your own.
No Missile Attacks on Christmas
Ok, ok, very few people are really launching missiles at the holidays, but some families come pretty close. Whatever problems or dysfunction are present in your family, you need to put them behind you at the holidays and embrace what you love about your family. And if there’s a family member, spouse of someone, or friend who you really can’t stand, don’t make the mistake that too many people make of using the holidays as an opportunity to passive aggressively attack them. Instead, use the holidays as a chance to find the good in everyone. No matter how hard you may have to look, you can rest assured that it is definitely there.
The holidays can be stressful, but it is a choice to allow them to become stressful and conflict riddled. Focus on the positive both of your family dinners and with the people you love, and you’ll find yourself having a blissfully conflict free holiday season.