Does removing the clog in the bathtub drain, working on your taxes, or hearing fingernails along a chalkboard seem less daunting than attending an upcoming family event?
Maybe your family is eerily similar to the Griswold family, and your holiday get-togethers seem to mimic this classic scene:
You’re not alone in that sentiment!
The truth of the matter is that for better or for worse, family is family—and especially during any holiday time, family gatherings are all but impossible to avoid.
Making the Most of Family Get-Togethers
If you’re less than thrilled with being under the same roof as your family, what can you do? As part of our Holiday Survival Tips, consider the following suggestions to get you through the next family gathering with a smile on your face.
1. Realistic Expectations[divider]
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by hoping that over the past year, your family members have somehow transformed themselves into ideal parents, siblings, uncles, etc. Don’t expect them to have changed at all and it will leave you pleasantly surprised if they have.
2. Keep Things Moving[divider]
You don’t have to sit in the same seat all night listening to Uncle Eddie go into detail about his overactive sweat glands and how many shirts he goes through. Unless he has literally stapled you to the chair, keep things fresh and less tedious by moving around and getting involved in a variety of conversations with different people.
3. Testing! Testing![divider]
View your next family gathering as an opportunity to see how much you’ve improved as a person. Family members will likely still ask you:
- “Why aren’t you married yet?”
- “When are you going to get a real job?”
- “Have you considered doing something about your weight?”
Tell yourself “This is a test…I repeat—ONLY a test.” Don’t fight fire with fire and potentially volatile situations can be extinguished before they begin.
4. Smile among Friends[divider]
While your best friends are unlikely invited to dinner at your Grandma’s, you can keep them in mind while you’re fraternizing with family. Make prearranged plans with your good friends to meet up after the holidays to share all bizarre happenings during the family gatherings. Then, take a vote on who is worthy of an award—perhaps reward them by taking them out to dinner, buying a gift certificate, or giving a humorous trophy. By looking out for ways to one-up your friends, you may actually find yourself amused at what happens at your next family gathering.
5. I Predict…[divider]
Another way to prepare for—and even look forward to all of the things that occur at dysfunctional family events is to make a game out of it. Get together with friends ahead of time and make your own list of 20 things that will be said or events that you expect will occur at your family get-together. (Examples: Your brother will complain the mashed potatoes are lumpy; Cousin Jimmy will show up wearing acid-washed jeans again; Aunt Lola’s dentures will pop out while eating dinner.) Every time your predictions come true, you get a point! Compare with your friends afterwards to see who wins the “Predictable Family” award.
Make the most of your next family event and walk away with a smile on your face and perhaps enough stories to win you an award or two with your friends.
Share with your orthodontist in Seattle: How would you describe your family get-togethers? What tips can you share to help others make the most of their time with family?