As a child, the only things that holidays bring to mind are playing with cousins, eating tons of food, and opening gifts. But as the years go by, some people find that the family time becomes a necessity to be tolerated instead of an exciting, highly anticipated event. If you find yourself dreading the family bondage- ahem, bonding – this season, here are some ideas for a new approach.
1. Come prepared: You know your family’s past – any hard feelings and topics to avoid. Brainstorm before you arrive; think of subject matter you know will be of interest but is not as likely to stir up trouble.
2. But not too prepared: Thinking ahead will give you ample time to remember past grievances and to realize just how sensitive your family may be to things you find trivial. Don’t get pre-angry or anxious about these things. Be aware of them, but not caught up in them.
3. Bring a small host gift: Nothing extravagant; if tension already exists, don’t think the aroma of turkey and stuffing will keep them from smelling a kiss-up a mile away. But something as simple as a bag of the host’s favorite candy or a two liter of pop with a bow on it is a nice gesture. This is an easy way to show that you don’t only know the negatives, but what makes them happy as well.
4. Consider a hotel: If you are from out of town, maybe a hotel stay would be better than staying in someone’s home. This will require plenty of tact. Make sure you let them know it is (at least partially) for their sake. You don’t want to overcrowd them and make extra work for them. This can cut down on time for opportunities to create new strain on the relationship.
5. Play a game: Before or after the main event – food – find a game to play or an activity of some kind. This is fun and can help pass the time, as long as it is not too competitive. Involving the kids can help, too, as the attention tends to naturally shift toward them.
6. Relax: These are holidays! They are supposed to be a reprieve from the daily grind and from being bogged down with stress. You can’t control what anyone else does, but you can determine that you will relax and do everything you can to make it an enjoyable time.