Dealing With Family During the Holidays, Vol. 431, Dec. 7, 2017
During the holidays we find ourselves interacting with all sort of family members, some of whom we may love to be with and some that we would rather not have to contend. If you have a chronic health problem, the stress of the holidays can make it worse. In this blog post, I am going to give you some ideas on how to deal with a few different personality types to ease the situation.
When my older distant cousin got me in touch with my extended family on my father’s side back in 2001, I was amazed at how many relatives I had that I never knew before. What was most intriguing though, were the older relatives, those who were already in their 70’s and 80’s when I met them, doing wonderful things with their lives even then. One was still a practicing dentist in his 80’s, another an eye doctor in his 70’s and a travel agent in her 70’s all still so engaged in life. Now, twenty years later most of these older people have passed away. I feel so fortunate to have met them and gotten to know their stories and see the vibrant lives they were still living, so unlike the elders that I had taken care of at a similar point in their lives. We never know when our elders will no longer be among us, so spend your time with them while you still can. Get their life’s stories, their wisdom and keep it to pass on to the next generations.
If you find yourself among many people, it is easier to seek the special ones out and spend your social time with them. If you see someone that you do not get along with well, be cordial and then find your way to someone more in line with your values who you enjoy being around.
Kids are great because they just want to play, and that is easy to do with them, especially the real young ones. Spending time with them you can get into your more playful mode and just kick back and have fun. No reason to be engaged in the serious adult talk, just play with the little ones and entertain them. You may find that you get more out of it then they do.
While I was growing up, my mother’s mother was always around. During the holidays she would bring us wonderful presents. However, there was another side to her that wasn’t as pleasant and that was her need to gossip about people spreading ill will. Many times when she would do this, my main goal was to shut her down. So, I would let her know that I really had no use for the conversation that she was trying to have with me and have her change the subject. Most times this worked out fine. Because this is the thing, if you don’t want to hear the negativity coming from someone, it is up to you to have them change the subject.
During my years of celebrating the holidays with my ex, things were much more difficult because his father would find ways to antagonize me. Unfortunately, instead of just ignoring it and letting it go, I would argue with him, because I hated his bullying nature. Now, with a bit more wisdom, I would probably say nothing and hope that would end it. However, with my father-in-law, it was hard to say, because he would drink his beer and get out of control at times. It was just because of this behavior that I made the decision to stop seeing him. That worked out much better for me and my ex because there was no point in being placed into a situation that was so uncomfortable for both of us. We created our own holidays at that point.
If there is a table that you need to sit at during the meal, do your best to sit next to people that you get along with. Sometimes this isn’t possible because the seating arrangements have already been made. Maybe you can shift your spot so that you can engage with the people that you feel comfortable with, to make your day a more pleasant one.
Remember that the holidays are yours as well, so make decisions that allow you to have the “holiday” be what it is meant to be. A time to recharge yourself from your regular life and all its obligations. In other words, allow yourself to lessen your obligations to others during the holidays so that you can indeed feel that you had a holiday for yourself.
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