Only in America do we allow ourselves barely any time off from work, and then proceed to spend that time engaged in situations that make us crazy. Though we may love our family members, we don’t always like them, so the idea of spending the holidays with parents, siblings, cousins and in-laws can be daunting. Here, 5 ways to prepare for the chaos that comes with your kin.
Much in the way New Year's Eve is never as fun as a random Tuesday night out, family gatherings—and family members—are bound to disappoint if you place heavy expectations on them. Maybe you're hoping your grandmother will gift you something you actually want instead of a random crocheted knickknack? Spoiler alert: It’s not going to happen. Maybe you're hoping you and your brother won't get into a political argument? Also unlikely. Go into the festivities expecting nothing but that your loved ones are going to be themselves. It can be helpful to make a preemptive reassessment of their most irritating traits to best set your expectations (balance it out with a list of redeeming qualities if you'd rather take a more positive approach).
Form strategic alliances with other family members in advance to manage irksome characters or potentially explosive situations. Let's say your sister-in-law is a vegan and you come from a proudly carnivorous family that likes to refer to her as a "crazy hippie" to her face. Ask a couple of people to prepare dishes that are quietly vegan, like this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, so she can partake in the meal without enduring the usual side of snark.
Prepare A List Of Safe Topics
Arm yourself with some conversation-starters that are interesting but not inflammatory. Keep your roundtable light and fluffy like a small-town newscast, and if things appear to be taking a turn for the worse, distract everyone with a pre-selected baby animal video on YouTube.
When you feel you're about to blow, take a time-out instead. We like the drugstore as an excuse to get out of the house. Use aimless aisle perusal to cool down, or pick out a random silly gift for a family member you're not annoyed with. The time away—and the surprised joy of your impromptu recipient—should effectively defuse whatever tension was brewing.
Remember, It's Not Forever
Not to end on a down note, but keep in mind that even the most nightmarish of family events will eventually be just a memory. Appreciate the moments as much as possible. As families grow and change, it can be tougher to get everyone together in one place. Nothing lasts forever—not even your creepy Uncle Bert's creepier come-ons.