>Surviving Your Family at the Holidays…

So you’re embarking on the holiday season… as you desperately refill that Valium prescription, here are a few other ideas to help you manage your family during this time, so that you can keep right on LOVING them!!!

We all have certain ideas about how we’d like our family members to think and behave; but if we expect them to act accordingly, we’ll constantly be disappointed. Remember this: the best predictor of future behavior (without intervention)is past behavior. That means your uppity cousins who have always looked down on you will probably continue to do so, no matter what successes you enjoy. If you keep bugging them about your latest achievements, expecting them to accept you, you will end up feeling frustrated, hurt and angry. Worse, you will have wasted precious time you’ll never get back. Once you can define the idea that ‘I wish my cousins and I could get along like we used to,’ it redefines the whole thing. You can let yourself feel a little sad for the loss in that relationship, and learn to coexist at these functions; or even better, figure out a way to know each other as you are rather than how you wish they’d be!

You need a better strategy. On the holiday(s) in question, plan to devote some of your time to talking to people you actually enjoy, like the funny cousins, or the thoughtful uncle. What about helping out in the kitchen, what’s it like in there?! Maybe you could get to know the kids who keep showing up at these things, in louder and taller versions? This is a good investment anyway, I mean, who do you think is going to take turns chatting you up, or spoon-feeding you mashed potatoes at these things when you get old(er)?!

For your tougher relatives, it’s important to recognize your limits, and set them, discreetly. Maybe you and a few others to take turns listening to Great Aunt Maudie tell the same depressing stories over and over, maybe you volunteer to sit at the kids’ table so you aren’t held hostage to the redneck ramblings of Uncle Hank. (See the karma points in the mashed potato comment, above…) Maybe you can even develop a little compassion for some of the grouchy folks. The uppity cousins, for example; just think how hard it must be to be so completely focused on what kind of car they drive, or the label on their fancy jeans – they’re missing out on the juiciest bits of life, and they don’t even realize it! How sad… and how not your job to make them see it on the one day of the year that you have to share space with them… See how we just did that? Now, please pass the potatoes….



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