Growing up, you may have watched TV holiday specials in awe as families gathered around a feast or a decorated tree and talked about the greatest gift of all being love. What about family members who you may love, but whose behavior you may not always like?
When people come together from different sides of the family – and different walks of life – an opera often ensues.
Help to diffuse it by following these tips for keeping the peace in your household this holiday season:
Does your mother or mother-in-law often bring a “back-up” entrée in case yours doesn’t pan out? Instead of letting this get to you, nip it in the bud. Select a side dish of hers that you genuinely love, and ask her if she could bring it this year instead, so that she’ll feel included and you won’t feel steamrolled.
Create Dinner Placecards
You don’t need a family therapist to tell you that avoiding problems doesn’t resolve them. Sometimes it’s best to keep certain family members apart in order to keep the peace, even if short-lived. Dinner placecards with each person’s name are a perfect (and classy) way to separate people who have a history of friction. You can create them yourself or buy them at a craft store.
Revive a Family Tradition
As life becomes more complex, it’s often good to get back to enjoying the simple things in life such as reminiscing about a tradition your family loved when you were a child. Maybe the kids always made homemade peanut butter fudge with your grandmother, or perhaps the family organized a “White Elephant” swap, where each person would contribute and wrap a gift under $10 to exchange. Maybe your mom would read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to everyone, complete with sleigh-bell sound effects. Whatever the tradition, consider reviving it. Sometimes, remembering happy memories can help create new ones.
Accept People for Who They Are
No one is perfect. As much as we might like for a particular family member to kick a particular habit that drives us nuts, it’s important to accept that we can’t control someone else’s behavior, we can only control our reaction. Try to make the distinction between the habits that are everyday annoyances versus those that are truly detrimental to our and the person’s well-being. If they’re just annoyances, let it go.
By letting go of petty grievances, you’ll discover that you have more room for happiness – during the holidays and year-round.