The holiday season is upon us. I can hardly stand the excitement of family get-togethers and out-of-town guests.
No, really. I can hardly stand it.
The only thing worse than dry turkey is the runny lemon meringue pie Grandma tries her best to guilt you into eating. But worse than Cousin Martha’s green bean casserole is having to get together with people you only see twice a year and being forced to act like you enjoy their company.
Uncle Jeff is bound to fall asleep in the recliner and snore through the second half of the football game. Little Johnny is going to clog the toilet. He always does. Aunt Louise will catch everyone up on hometown gossip. Grandpa will regale you with stories from his childhood (which you’ve heard at least 174 times). And your mom will continue to shove plates of food in your face for the duration of the afternoon. “Diet?” she’ll say, horrified, “Whoever heard of a diet during the holidays?!”
If you have unresolved chores, bills, family relationships that are strained or projects that are unfinished, do everything you can to get them managed before the holidays set in.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Know which topics and people are off-limits. If a conversation comes up that you’re not comfortable having, walk away.
Park on the street so you don’t get blocked in.
Agree on a “code word” prior to the holiday celebration that says, “I’ve had enough of this and I have to get out of here before I throw a rod!” – Kate Pieper, LMFT
Arrive late and leave early.
When hosting the family hellabration, it is important to have hooch somewhere. If you are from a family of teetotalers, make a pot of coffee and keep a bottle of Irish cream under the sink to …errr…sweeten it with. They will be in awe of your endless holiday cheer. – Sasha Maples Johns, True Vine Gifts
Lots of families have a “crazy Uncle Bo.” Be intentional about not leaving any family member alone with “Uncle Bo.” Think of it as ‘leave no family member behind!’ – Kate Pieper, LMFT
Have an “after party” planned so you can only stay with draining people for a set amount of time (i.e, take the kids to see Christmas lights, go to a late movie with a friend, plan on taking goodies to a coworker’s house, etc). Or have someone on standby to send an “emergency” text/phone call when you need to get out. – Lindsey Austin
The bathroom is your safe place. – Teer Hardy, Crackers and Grape Juice Podcast
Set expectations low. Family holidays aren’t times to truly bond or resolve issues. Go in with the expectation of it not being perfect, but “just be kind.” – Kate Pieper, LMFT
Stay in the moment. Remember the reason for your season. Whatever your personal reasons are for celebrating the holidays, remember to be present and enjoy everything you can. This year will never be here again! – Faydra Koenig
If all else fails, it’s perfectly acceptable to come down with a last-minute stomach bug. (Seriously – it is perfectly acceptable to say no to the things that cause more stress than joy.)
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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