The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year for many reasons, one of which is the chance to see family and friends that you don’t often get a chance to see. While these meetings and gatherings are often happy, they can sometimes be stressful and awkward. Let’s face it, most of us have at least one relative that we don’t really look forward to seeing because they usually create cringe-worthy situations that make us question our Christmas spirit. To help you deal with these less-than-merry encounters, our contributor, Joana Ferreira, is here with eight tips to help you handle every situation with grace.
1. Lower your expectations.
The thing with holiday get-togethers is that we built up expectations on how everything should go. The food is going to be ready on time and perfect and everyone will get along, right? Then, when something doesn’t go according to the plan, we focus so much on that particular situation that we forget all the good things that happened. Don’t chase perfection. This will avoid you getting disappointed with another family gathering.
2. You can only control yourself.
You have no control over what your relatives will say or do. You can only control how you react. Stop for a minute or two and think about your reaction. Are you calm, offended or upset? What does it say about you? This is why dealing with awkward family members can actually teach you a few things about yourself.
3. Think before you speak.
Every year, your aunt asks you the same question: ‘When are you going to get married?’ Meanwhile, you just broke up with your boyfriend a month ago so you might feel like replying with a rude comment. Instead, think before you speak. And if you really want to be prepared, think about every awkward conversation bound to happen and make a game plan for how you’ll handle each one. Remember, there’s no need to be rude.
4. Don’t take it personally.
If you have a relative that’s a bully, keep in mind that how people treat you says nothing about you but everything about them. Maybe they feel insecure about certain aspects of their lives and project those insecurities into others, maybe they feel jealous of you in some way or maybe they don’t even realize they are being mean. Either way, don’t let that comment get under your skin.
5. Wear their shoes.
Does your soon-to-be mother-in-law think her son is too good for you? Just for a moment, wear her shoes. If you make the effort to know more about the person, you’ll probably understand why they act like that. Maybe she doesn’t know you that well and simply fears losing her son. This doesn’t mean you have to accept her attitude, but it might be helpful to have a little background story in order to understand where she is coming from.
6. Bring company.
Bringing with you someone you trust can be a big help. Your partner or best friend can become an ally when you get stuck in an awkward situation. Come up with a word or gesture as a cue for when you need a change in the topic or an excuse to leave.
7. Take a breather.
If you’re about to lose it, step away to get some fresh air, count to 100 and go back inside. Or go hide in the bathroom for a couple of minutes. It might sound strange, but the bathroom is actually a pretty good escape, mostly to avoid suffering through the embarrassment of having your mom show your baby pictures to your new boyfriend.
8. Focus on what’s important.
Don’t waste your energy worrying about awkward situations, difficult relatives or uncomfortable conversations. This is the most wonderful time of the year and there are better things to do than worry about what might go wrong or dwell on an awkward conversation. Yes, you had an awkward conversation with your aunt after dinner, but maybe you also had a thoughtful conversation with your grandfather earlier or even got compliments on your cooking. Remember, focus on what’s important.