Aren’t holidays great? There are presents, food, time off work (for those fortunate enough), and time with family. However, the time with family can quickly turn into disagreements, which then lead to out right fighting.
Its all too often the times we all think should be enjoyed turn into episodes of family drama.
Before getting together with family this holiday season, think about the triggers that cause these family problems. Maybe Uncle Bobby is the one who starts problems by drinking too much. Possibly it is Aunt Mildred who starts on a rant because Uncle Bobby is drinking too much, which then sends him into a defensive rant. Maybe there are past resentments that have not been dealt with since the previous year(s) and they are now resurfacing while everyone sits down to the table. I think you get the point…there can be a multitude of problems that can cause a family to dinner to become a scene of dysfunction.
What can you do different this year? Identify those triggers that have caused anger and/or arguments in the family and approach things differently this year. Is there a need to hold family gatherings at a different location? Would having an alcohol-free family get together likely make the day more pleasant?
If the problems during the holidays seem to hinge on one particular person, then I would recommend talking with this family member before the holiday season begins. It would be ideal to meet with them in person, if possible (or at least over the phone). This would allow you to express the concerns in a calm and caring manner. For instance, you could discuss how you would be more comfortable if a particular topic (insert family feud issue here) were avoided, so that everyone can have a nice family gathering. Be sure to use “I” and “we” language, instead of “you.” By discussing how “We would feel more comfortable if…” this will avoid making the family member with whom you are talking feel as if they are being accused.
I hope everyone has a very happy and enjoyable holiday season. Please remember that in order for things to get better, there has to be change. So, approach this season with the idea of “What can we do different?” When things are done differently, there is a chance things can get better. Holidays are for enjoying family, not starting or perpetuating feuds!