This article was published on December 16th, 2019
The holidays can be really great… or really shitty, depending on who you’re spending time with. For those who have to spend Christmas, Kwanza, and Hanukkah with your blood family versus your chosen family, there’s always the fear that someone is going to say something that upsets someone else, thus ruining the holiday for everyone around them as a fight ensues. Here are some great tips to survive your conservative families during the holidays.
Education is key. Racist Aunt Susan might not even completely realize she is being a stereotyping bigot. Try to remain calm and softly attempt to educate her about her ignorance. Give examples of real people you know that contradict what she is saying.
Keep an open mind and listen more than you speak. Just like you want to educate people with your own facts and viewpoints, everyone wants to feel like they are being heard. Even if you don’t agree with them, your family will appreciate that you listened to their juxtaposition.
Avoid talking politics. As my mother used to say: fish and family start to smell after a few days. Try to limit family visits to a few days. For extended family visits make arrangements to stay at different family member houses, or book accommodation at a nearby hotel so you’ve got a place to retreat to when you’re over it.
Don’t drink too much. One or two to take the familial edge off is one thing. But getting totally wrecked around your family can lead to heightened emotions you might have subdued if you weren’t Beyoncé bombed. Eating and drinking water the entire time can help sustain your sobriety.
Do your research and find common interests or joys you share with your family members. People have a harder time denigrating one another when they have mutual affections, tastes and interests.
Pre-plan activities and games. Do things as a family that are fun but not deep. Bust out that deck of cards. Holiday charades? You betcha. Board games and anything you can play together would be fine. And cooking together is also an excellent activity that doesn’t require too deep of conversations.
Pitch in and be an active guest, host, or participate. Bring a dish to eat. Help with the dishes and clean up. Cook what you can. Offer to shovel the driveway, take the kids for a walk, or run last-minute errands. This will take you away and give you mindless tasks while taking breaks from the group.
Plan an escape route. If shit really hits the fan, you don’t want to be stuck there until the dust settles. Have a rental car, Lyft, or taxi waiting for you at the flip of a wrist and app on your phone. Make an exodus back to your hotel if needed. Just don’t get stuck there. You’ll be miserable if you feel offended and trapped. If you’re staying over, excuse yourself to have a shower and head to bed early.
What are your tricks and ways of dealing with family over the holidays? Leave your recommendations and ideas in the comments box below.