Surviving The Holidays With Relatives
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Halloween is behind us for another year, and autumn yields brightly colored foliage and cooler temperatures. The leaves drifting to the ground bring with them thoughts of the upcoming holidays.

For many people, the hustle and bustle of planning for family meals, traveling and holiday shopping is a joyous time. Yet others of us are making plans to catch the flu or volunteer for those overtime hours at work to avoid spending the holidays with relatives.

Don’t cancel those flu shots just yet. Holidays with your relatives don’t have to be a total nightmare. We can’t promise they will be sunshine and rainbows, but we have found a few tips to make the holidays with family a little more bearable.

• Coulda, woulda, shoulda, DON’TA! You can’t please everyone, especially during the holidays, so don’t try! If you are the host, go with what fits your schedule and budget. If another relative hosts the festivities, discuss the arrangements with them. Let them tell you what they need instead of letting your aunt or cousins decide how things take place at someone else’s house. They might pout, but a happy host won’t let unhappy relatives make you uncomfortable during the holidays.

• Have your no-no list. Before the holidays, make a list of any subjects that require delicate sidestepping: i.e., divorce, death, job loss, negative medical conditions, legal issues, etc., and then avoid those topics like they have fangs. Also, brace yourself if any of those topics are sensitive to you. Respond with confidence. Also, use something positive to deflect the negative. Ask the nosey relative about their recent successes in order to divert their attention.

• Lower your expectations. Some of us see holidays spent with family playing out like a well-rehearsed film in our heads. If one person speaks different lines or drinks too much wine, it screws up our mind’s production, and the stress commences. Instead, envision this: “Relatives during the Holidays: The Improvumentary.” The stage is set, the actors are in place, and anything goes. You did your part by attending the event and avoiding sensitive topics, but the rest is up to the rest of your family.

• Give yourself plenty of time. Family always rushes us, especially during the holidays. Whether it’s the dinner prep, the car ride, catching the flight or waking up early, make sure you have enough time to do things on your own schedule. If you feel rested and calm at the beginning, you stand a better chance of not ripping off any heads. Even if those heads are begging to roll.

• Say NO to guilt trips. Taking control of the way you do things during the holidays is critical in improving your experience with relatives. When you decide that you’ve had enough family time for the season, head for the door. Bid your family a warm, affectionate farewell and leave. Remember: those people don’t stop you any other time. You aren’t being cruel to them. You are simply removing one of many holiday stressors from yourself, perhaps for many holidays to come.