3 Tips to Enjoy Family This Holiday

Holiday celebrations can feel more like an obligation than a choice. For others, the festivities are great except for that one person that gets under your skin. 

Here are some tips that will keep things civil and create a more peaceful holiday. 

1. Watch your expectations

Your brother-in-law starts talking politics.

Dad starts drinking way before you get there and it shows.

Your mother-in-law starts criticizing the way you keep house.

Family time can be difficult when there's leftover hurt and resentment. Going into the holidays expecting others to change sets you up for disappointment. There are parts of family that are just painful. How you manage that hurt can make or break the holidays.

Handling holiday family expectations

First goal, practice acceptance.

It doesn't mean you like or approve of what your family does, it just means you stop trying to change them. How you react is the only thing you can change.

Having minimal expectations and practicing acceptance are the keys for creating happier holidays.

Focusing on what your mother said last year prevents you from seeing what is good this year. Can you relate?

When you accept your family, you give up the struggle. It becomes easier to find the good because you aren't spending your energy focusing on the bad or trying to change the outcome.

Realizing that they may never meet your needs is part of acceptance. Taking those needs somewhere else is self-care.

2. Handle resentments

How do I enjoy my Aunt Cathy who is always rude to me? Or my mother-in-law who is passively aggressive about my weight?

You have some choices. Find a way to handle it, keep stewing or let it go.

To handle it by yourself writing is a great way to express it without being censored. Find the part you played in the situation.

It may be something you did or said before the incident or in reaction to it. Either way, owning your part lessens the resentment and builds empathy.

To handle it directly, let the person know what upset you. State what they did and how you felt about it. Let them know how you feel instead of "how they made you feel" which invites defensiveness.

If you cannot let it go, set up a chat. Stick to the facts of what happened to avoid blame. If it's too big to handle right now, check out my free email course on anger by clicking below.

Don't bring up anything else. It'll go better if you don't bombard them with past hurts.

3. Stick to neutral topics

With politics causing relationship tension, finding neutral topics is critical. Agreeing to disagree is necessary when on opposite sides.

If you start reacting, check out what you're hearing. Assumptions are made in an instant. Don't let your mind run away to that negative "stinking thinking" place. 

If you anticipate conflict: 

  • Plan ahead.
  • Suggest a different topic to keep the peace.
  • Drive your own car in case you need to leave.
  • Make a different choice like go play with the kids.
  • Offer to get something at the store to remove yourself. 
  • Get support.
  •  Bring a funny movie to light the mood.
  • Play a neutral game.

Being light and polite goes a long way here.

Creating a peaceful holiday starts with you! Don't overstay if things are getting tense. Your family may never change - but you can! 

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