In Perry Como’s iconic song he sang “there’s no place like home for the holidays,” and while many of us are looking forward to catching up with family, almost all of us have at least one family member that can be described as difficult. Whether they’re politically offensive or just downright impossible to get along with, there’s probably at least one relative you have trouble getting along with. The good news is there are ways of dealing with this relative (or relatives) to make this holiday season more enjoyable.
Avoid the Confrontation
There are families that have a dynamic of arguing and it works for them, however some families argue and hard feelings between family members are a result. If there’s a specific topic that you know is going to lead to a bad argument, make sure you don’t bring it up. If it is eventually brought up, remember, you don’t have to engage in the conversation. Deflect the topic by making a light joke or letting them know you’ll agree to disagree. Anticipate the conflict before it ever happens and come up with ways to deflect the argument altogether, or make a joke to keep the conversation light. The important thing is to not lose control and fly off the handle for your own sake and because unfortunately, your relative may be anticipating that you will react that way.
Love the Imperfections
If you try so hard to have the holidays be perfect, chances are you’re missing out on a great time. Focusing too much on things going off without a hitch is going to put a lot of pressure on you and you’ll be more likely to be stressed out and agitated. When things go awry, remember that the best memories are made when everything is not absolutely perfect.
Shift the Conversations
If the conversation takes a drastic turn in a direction you didn’t want it to take, change the focus to something neutral. Talk about the children in your family or a charity or nonprofit that you recently became involved with.
Invite Your Friends
If your family lives close enough that a friend or two can come to the festivities, this could be enough to dissuade the difficult relative from starting an argument, making a judgement call, or just being outright difficult. Your friends will help fill the room and be there for support afterwards if the celebrations turn sour.
Take Some Time After the Holidays
Don’t feel guilty about taking a day or two to yourself to recover from the holidays. The holidays each year can be stressful for even the happiest of families, but if it seems extra stressful for you take some time to recharge.