The Holiday Season is time for us to relfect upon the various blesssings in our lives, help those less fortunate than ourselves and in general, enjoy and celebrate the festive season. Most of us will gather with our families to celebrate and for many of us, this will become a source of great stress and anxiety. We all have stories of Christmas dinner going horribly wrong because someone mentioned out loud that Uncle Ted was drinking too much or, Aunt Sally has put on some weight and might want to consider putting down the stuffing. If we take a moment to think about it our expections for our family gatherings are quiet absurd and unrealistic; once a year we get together with family whom we take great measures to avoid all year long and then expect the experience to have a postive outcome. It’s insane!
We have come across some strategies that can help you get through this holiday season relatively unscathed.
No Expectations: This is a critical strategy. Do not expect your family function to revival a Norman Rockwell painting. Before your family function sit down and consciously reflect upon your family’s shortcomings , and consciously accept that they nor you cannot change.
Boundries: Now that you have established your family is not going to change, you need to set your boundries. If you are visitng your family then give yourself a time limit, you alone know how much time is enough. Don’t let anyone guilt you into staying longer than you intended, one way to ensure this is to arrage for a friend or a cab to pick you up at a specific time. This way you have to leave. If you are hosting give your guests a cutoff time, or get left over packages ready and waiting for your guests by the door.
Disengage: It never fails at some point during dinner or luncheon someone will inadvertenlty (or deliberatly) serve you a back handed comment about any number of things you are self conscious about — being that they are your family they are intimately aware of your insecurities. In that moment you may be compelled to mount a defense to explain away why you are not married, or the extra 15 pounds that have made themselves present this year– DON’T DO IT! As hard as this may be disengage, do not give this discussion any momentum. In doing this you are maintaining control of the situation by refusing to allow yourself to enter into a toxic teninis match where insults are volleyed back and forth.
Sit Back and Watch the Show: Sociologists join certain groups in order to watch and report on what they have observed. Take this time to watch how other family members interact with one another, think of it as a virtual reality show. By not actively participating in the family drama you have no vested interest in the outcome, and will remain emotionally neutral.
Call a Friend: After your family event, call someone “safe” to whom you can re hash the entire event. This will not only help you gain some perspective, but help to difuse any hostile feelings. Hopefully your friend will in turn tell you about their family function and you can comiserate together.
We hope that our tips help you navigate this tricky social season.
On behalf of the folks at the Oasis Movement we would like to wish you all the best for this festive season.