16 Easy Ways to Survive Christmas
We’ve all experienced a challenging holiday festivity: so-and-so is mad, mom is crying in the bedroom, the uncle had too much alcohol and the cars are stalled so everyone is stuck (not a true story). Here are some suggestions to create a potentially tolerable holiday.
1) Remember: Nothing lasts forever. We all have a shelf-life. Pretend that this will be the last time you will see this individual. This might make you appreciative, or it might make you giddy. Either way, you win.
2) Think positive: Before you visit, think of 5 positive things about the situation or each person. Include yourself. This doesn’t make the negative acceptable, but it may allow you to have a more resilient spirit.
3) Be Realistic. People won’t be on their best behavior. They will try, but relations can go from love to zombie-pocalypse in moments.
4) Conserve energy. Don’t make too many dishes, bring too many gifts or anticipate too many problems. It’s going to be what it’s going to be. The verbal mashup will happen sooner or later, but the more energy you have, the more easily you can side-step or graciously deflect.
5) Give advice (no, no, no). Unconditional love is key to the holiday and it’s not your job to fix others. Most people want to get through the holiday with a minimum of fuss. If you’re sad or mad that no one is listening to your advice, stop giving it.
6) Re-direct the conversation. If the conversation is going negative, you can just ask a distracting question about a hobby or pet or ask their advice. Just say “Oh, hey! I just remembered [blank], what do you think?”
7) Opt-out of the conversation. If people are discussing politics or religion, it’s ok to say nothing. If they’re discussing anything, it’s ok to say nothing. If someone has really offensive perspectives, try your best to take the high road. If you want to dangle your feet in the pool of differing opinions, it’s ok to give your opinion once and maybe repeat once, but beyond that, you’re not being heard.
8) Listen. Make sure to listen as much as you speak. Don’t jump in with quick comebacks or be dismissive. By listening, you might be able to understand things differently or phrase things in a way that other people will understand. It might change their perspective, or maybe change yours. It may not be then and there, but it may happen over time.
9) Don’t argue. If you can’t ignore, try not to argue. Arguing is negotiating and it’s unlikely that anyone is going to change their opinion. Most of the time people are arguing for the audience. Plus, we’re actually giving people energy thru arguing. Yes, it’s negative energy, but some people love that. In fact, I’ve seen people say outrageous things just so they can create drama. If we don’t engage in the situation, it can potentially die off. Don’t worry if they get the last word. You can just raise an eyebrow and passively shrug your shoulders. Some people will continue to throw out bait to see if anyone will grab, just be aware of the situation. Watch it as a sporting event. If they’re really offensive, see the last tip.
10) Bring entertainment. Always bring a good book, magazine, or music. If people are asking you what you’re doing, tell them about it or just smile and say “Oh, I’m daydreaming and enjoying the holiday.”
11) Pitch in: Expect to wash dishes, clean, etc. Then if you don’t have to, awesome. However, whoever is hosting may get crabbier when they’re tired, so it’s better to help. Or you can spend some time playing with the kids. It’ll keep them out of other people’s hair, reduce the overall stress and the kids will enjoy the attention. Don’t teach them to smoke, light fireworks or drink.
12) Bring a friend. This is a 50/50. Some families remember their manners, some love an audience for their brawls. Choose a friend with humor and prep them well.
13) Enjoy what you can. If one person is awesome, great. If the food is good, yum. If the house is warm, yay. Find the silver lining and be grateful for that (but also be aware of the last tip). Always compliment the food (unless it makes you sick).
14) Drink moderately. Enjoy the food and spirits, but don’t get too spirited with the alcohol. All good deeds are undone with alcohol. Plus, if you overindulge, it will give the rude individuals an excuse to overindulge.
15) Run away. Have back up plans for activities like seeing a movie or meeting friends. Plan to stay a shorter amount of time or stay in a hotel. It’s easy to overstay our welcome whether you put the toothpaste cap on or shower daily. It’s ok to appreciate people in short time spans and from a distance.
16) Don’t go home. If your family makes you miserable, maybe it’s time to choose a new family, or create a larger one. And, maybe it’s an opportunity to create a better, more loving relationship with yourself.