How to Keep the Peace When Relatives Come to Visit
The holiday season is a time of great expectation, joy, and excitement, but can also be a time of great stress and frustration. It’s a special time of year when you and your whole extended family gather together under one roof. For many families, this is the only time of year where this happens—everyone busy with their own lives, their own children—so, it doesn’t seem like too much to hope for a fun, peaceful, loving celebration. However, fun, loving, and peaceful may not always be the case when it comes to your family, especially your extended family. Here are some simple things you can do to keep the peace and have a successful holiday celebration this season.
Relax, and be patient—with everyone! We can all be a little more patient. It’s the holiday season for all of us. We’re all trying to get, make, buy, prepare the best celebration for our families, we’re all scrambling to do the exact same thing. So we can all take a deep breath and just be mindful of the fact that we’re each only one of so many trying to enjoy the season. Patience is particularly important when it comes to dealing with family. The best thing you can do (in any situation) is to be patient and remain calm. Try as hard as you can, however hard it may be, when great Uncle Larry asks for the third time in an hour “is the tenderloin done?” As long as there is at least one calm and patient person in the house, you’re sure to survive till dinner.
Don’t act surprised when your brother-in-law chimes in with a snide sarcastic remark about how dried out the turkey is, or when your niece goes on a rant about how a-mazing her new boyfriend is. You know these people, you love and adore them for all their graces and all their foibles. Don’t let these petty things irritate you. Take them for what they are, let them wash over you and passed your ears. There is no sense rolling your eyes, throw in your two sense if necessary, and then move on. Never say more than you have to. And get up and walk away if you really can’t stand it.
Keep things focused on the celebration, but be flexible. What are some of your family’s favorite traditions? Is it all about the dinner? How you give gifts? The activities you do? Think about what traditions are most important to your family. Ask your family members their opinions too. Have a loose plan for how the evening is going to go, but be flexible—not everything is going to go exactly to plan, and that’s okay—just remember to always stay focused on the holiday itself, and let the party go where it goes.
Put aside your differences. In the end, you all probably have more in common that you have in differences. Individual family members are often so alike that they obsess over minute differences and blow the tiniest of issues way out of proportion. Remember the big things—like love, religion, tradition—that truly unite you and don’t dwell.
This is all, of course, easier said than done. I, believe it or not, have relatives that drive me batty—have for years—and I’ve had to learn it’s probably never going to change. It’s something we’ve all got to accept. It’s a fact of life, we’re not always going to get along with everybody all the time. But, remember, you are all family, you all share some amount of love somewhere, however deep down or dusty it may be. So, for one day—a few hours of one day—let’s all try to sit down and shut up and enjoy a happy and peaceful meal together.