By Nancy Mattia, CTW Features
It happens every holiday season. A family member makes a casual remark at dinner about, let’s say, climate change, and other relatives chime in with their opinions. Before long, the table has erupted into a full-on shouting match, the atmosphere changed from mellow to malicious in a matter of minutes. Can you relate?
Getting together with your kin at holiday time can be stressful and challenging, yet you put up with it every year. This holiday season try dealing with the unpleasant situation in a way that’s more fulfilling or, at least, bearable.
Check out the following tried-and-true strategies that can help you cope during your visit:
Avoid argument-inducing topics.
As much as you might enjoy trash-talking certain politicians or expressing your view on immigration reform, you can keep the peace by steering clear of subjects that typically get people’s blood boiling. Besides politics and immigrants, religion is another trigger unless it is known that everyone at the table believes in the same faith.
Just say no to curious relatives.
Aunt Betty loves asking you probing, personal questions—about your earnings, how much your new car costs, why you’re not married—but you are under no obligation to give her answers; instead, set boundaries. Tell her you know she cares about you, but your finances and love life are off the table for discussion, then change the subject
Avoid reverting to childhood behavior.
When you step inside your parents’ home, something happens and suddenly you’re 12 years old again, leaving your dirty dishes for Mom to wash and spending too much time with your phone instead of spending time with the relatives. Taking on the role you established years ago even though it’s no longer relevant is common. But, if you want your parents to treat you like an adult, don’t succumb to playing a role that isn’t really you anymore.
Take time for yourself.
If too much family togetherness is getting on your nerves, do something to relax: Go for a walk or swim, visit a local friend, or offer to run an errand for Grandpa. The point is to give yourself some alone time, away from the family, even if it’s just for a manicure.
Call a friend.
Just when you think your head is about to explode after another squabble with your sibling, it’s time to call or text an understanding friend who will be sympathetic to your plight. Let them know before your trip that you’d like to lean on them for support once in a while during your time away.
Plan an activity everyone can do together.
It could go a long way in bonding. Pick an activity that can be done by all family members like Bug Bingo or charades. Set up a Scrabble or Scattergories competition, bring a puzzle for everyone to collaborate on or come prepared with a fun family trivia quiz everyone will enjoy