Christmas is right around the corner. And you know what that means! You get to spend some quality time with all of your friends and family. Many of you will be traveling in the next couple of days to far away places, while others may be hosting the entire family at their homes. Initially, this sounds like a great idea, but the truth of the matter is that the holidays can be an extremely stressful time. From sleeping on an uncomfortable pull-out couch, to your kids bouncing off the walls because it's too cold to go outside, to arguing over which family member's house you're going to for Christmas dinner, the holidays can cause serious conflict in your relationships with family, friends, and significant others. So, what can you do to make this year as stress-free as possible?
While there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, I have a few suggestions.
- Relax. Try not to stress out over all of the decorating, cleaning, and cooking. I know it may sound cheesy, but Christmas is about love, togetherness, and family, not who's house is the cleanest. Spend quality time with the ones you love. Talk to them. Don't just sit around. Turn off the TV and have some meaningful conversations. Don't have anything to talk about? You could have everyone name their favorite movie of 2008 or have each person talk their favorite or most hated celebrity of 2008. Any of these topics could create some interesting discussions with your family members. If you want to avoid unnecessary conflict, try to stay away from topics like politics, religion, or money.
- Make something. Make a gingerbread house, decorate cookies, bake a cake or a pie, build a snowman, or make ornaments for your tree. Doing something with your family is really enjoyable for everyone involved.
- Play a game. Again, you want to actually do something with your friends and family instead of just vegging-out on the couch. Get out a board game, make some snacks, and play a game all afternoon.
When it comes to those crazy family members who seem to always say the wrong thing, stay calm. I know it's difficult (believe me, I know), but arguing during the holidays is not fun for anyone. For those of you who are those crazy family members, remember:
- Don't criticize. Criticism can be extremely hurtful. It's also a great way to create animosity and conflict in your relationship. And so you know, any message that has the words "always" or "never" in reference to something that someone is doing or has done is usually considered criticism. For example, "Your kitchen is never clean" or "You always speed on this road" are examples of criticism. Try to avoid these messages this holiday.
- If you're going to compliment someone, actually compliment. Many times people give back-handed compliments instead of real, genuine praises. You know exactly what I'm talking about. You're in your Aunt Mable's kitchen, which is immaculate, and your Aunt Greta says, "Wow dear, this kitchen is so fancy, you've done a great job decorating it. I never would have thought that you had the decorating gene in you. I mean, the rest of your house, well..." C'mon people! Just stick with complimenting; there's no need to go down that road of negativity.
- Keep your opinions to yourself. Unless you're asked, there is absolutely no reason why you should ever insert your opinions about how a child should be cared for, how to cook a holiday dish, how to decorate the tree, or the like. Unwanted advice is another excellent way to create conflict this holiday season (or any season for that matter).
If all else fails, go see the movie Four Christmases with your (adult) family... it's hilarious!