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 You know how good it feels when you effectively handle family relations at a distance through the year and you were able to bear annoying excesses because everyone was busy? Holidays aren’t like that. Everyone has the time for everyone on holidays. Those excesses are thrown in your face often during the holidays and at the end of it, you are expected to smile, hug them lovingly and say you have enjoyed yourself and would be back next year when you both know, right there, you are planning how you wouldn’t go through the hell again.
For those who God gave the gift of loving families –immediate and extended– and cannot imagine missing a holiday spent with family and friends, you’ll wonder at what the issue is about but for those whose families are on the other side of the divide, who would rather give excuses about not coming home for the holidays, here is how to be with the family you love but drives you crazy this holiday with minimal stress.
1. Be prepared: To family, even if you are middle aged and married with kids, you’ll always be that little boy that troubled an old woman for years or that little girl that picked her nose through high school before she stopped. So, get prepared. If you want to spend the holidays with the family you love, be mentally prepared to take comments that would make you feel little. When you are prepared, you can control your reaction and how long the whole act would last. When you are prepared, you are in control which is very important.
2. Don’t go alone: If you are single and your family does not mind having your friends around the house for the holidays, then you are fortunate and can handle the situation better. If you are married and with kids, it is so much better for you. You have a partner and children and they know you better and know you for who you are now. They will put in a good word for you when it is unbearable.
3. Organize events outside familiar territory: Comments that drive you crazy usually would come up in familiar environments when there is minimal activity going on. It can also happen when the family stuck together in a house is just bored, seeing familiar faces.  So before you join the family this holiday, create a low cost holiday plan filled with fun activities for your family. When you arrive, let it be what you bring up first at the dinner table. Most would agree with the plan. Ensure that everyone is involved in the process and in the fun activities.
4. Avoid topics that trigger negative comments: If you know that Uncle Tunde goes mad and personal when it comes to the family talking politics, ensure that when political issues are about to come up during family discussions, you are ready to interrupt with another interesting fall-back topic. They are your family. You know their weaknesses and strengths. You can use your understanding of who they are to keep them in check.
5. Love them anyway: And if it happens that all the above tips don’t eventually curb your family once in awhile, take it as it comes. Love them anyway. Forgive them before they offend you and have fun with them regardless.

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This article was first published on 25th December 2014

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