Holidays can be hard! Our expectations are based on movies and media where we see perfect families having the most wonderful meals, wearing the most wonderful clothes, playing football on the lawn and we think this year… this year that’s my family!
I was interviewed on WFXR this week to talk about this very topic! Check it out here.
Basically…if Aunt Mabel is still asking whether you are engaged or not, or Grandpa believes the last good President was Herbert Hoover…it’s time to prepare yourself!!
In some 12 step programs, they use the acronym: HALT, which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If you are any of these, Aunt Mabel might just be too much to bear. So, take time to stop, breathe, and take care of yourself — and you will be better able to handle your relatives and manage yourself!
1) You probably know your relatives and which ones will be the most challenging for you to handle. We can’t change them but we can change what we expect. We can adjust and adapt and remember that when the holiday is over, our real life is waiting and whatever happens around the Thanksgiving table won’t change that.
peaking of adjusting, we can adjust our physical position, keep moving… if Auntie is irritating, note that you haven’t seen Cousin Tom in a long time and you really must catch up with him and get moving away from your irritating Auntie. When Cousin starts in on politics, move on to someone else…
Don’t personalize it: your family probably cares about you but that doesn’t mean they get you. Whatever is most offensive to you is probably coming from their own issues or they are just being careless with their words and not noticing how offended you are.
Be realistic if you know this is going to be a chore, prepare yourself. Think of it as business, not pleasure. (If you are wrong-YAY) but if you are right you won’t be let down!
Plan a Friendsgiving or personal reward like a hike in order to get your own needs met!
Let it be… you can do lots of things but until you walked a mile in their shoes, you just don’t know why people act the way they do. So let it be, laugh it off, change the subject…
Be generous of spirit and plan to spread cheer (even if they don’t act they deserve it!) and maybe my friend was right, and you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar! Just don’t expect to have this cheer returned!
Set the stage: Say, “I know we are all tired of the election and what is going on in the media so I propose we choose to talk about something else. I want to put a collection together of everyone’s favorite holiday memories, so when we talk that’s what I’ll be asking.” Or say, “I know we all want to share our opinions of the latest election. I am going to put on the timer for 15 minutes… when it buzzes, we can move to the table (or to the next stage of the holiday) but let’s promise we won’t talk about politics. Instead, maybe we can share what we hope to be thankful for next year.”
Focus on what you share-football teams, reading, movies, music, etc…
Get active: go hiking, play touch football, take a bike ride…
Mind your manners as my grandmother would say…be polite, be kind, be quiet!!!
Practice self-care: whatever this means to you. My introverted daughter takes time outs and disappears to her room every couple of hours. Take a book, practice yoga, journal, take a bath, run, bike, walk, go to the mall.
Don’t overeat or drink too much.
If all else fails… have a get-away plan. Transportation and an excuse for taking a moment (or more) to yourself.
Holiday suggestions with kids:
If you are traveling-buy something new to do in the car or on the plane… new book, new game, new movie etc…
Try to keep as close to your normal routine as possible
Advocate for your kids… this is not the time to force them to eat all of their brussel sprouts if they normally live on chicken nuggets… (or is that just my kid?) Speak up to other family members about your rules and expectations if they are different from your other family members.
Plan activities but don’t overdo; plan downtime; provide outdoor time and physical activity; do something with just your own nuclear family (hike, movie, mall, etc.)
Give your children an assignment: ask them to find out everyone’s first Thanksgiving memory or favorite Thanksgiving food; let them make the placemats, name cards, napkin rings, center piece or help make the pies… so they feel a part of this whole festivity!
Remember kids are kids… they will melt down at inconvenient times. They will punch their sister in from of everyone. Deal with it all as privately as possible! Don’t give in to embarrassment because everyone’s kids have done it even if your sister in law pretends hers didn’t. Don’t shame your kids but also don’t let them off the hook. Think about what happened and remember that sometimes kids need consequences but sometimes they need to sleep or eat or play or to be hugged!!!