So since you are all not invited to my house, here are my techniques for getting through my holidays. Feel free to adapt to what works in your house or to totally ignore this or stop reading – your choice!
1) Avoid talking about politics.
If it comes up then you can do one of two things - engage or disengage. If you feel you MUST get involved, do so only if you are in a Buddha style state of calm and stone-cold sober. If not then disengage. I use compassion or humor depending on my mood. My Dad in particular likes to engage in debates which have turned disruptive and negative in the past. That is not how I choose to spend my time with the people I love. If I am in a kind mood, again rare for me, I say “Dad, I love you too much to debate or argue with you. Can I get you some more (fill in the blank here - usually cake, cheese, etc). If I am in a humorous mood I say “Go fish Dad!” That is a reference to a childhood card game called Go Fish. If you don’t know that game read no further, we don’t understand each other.
2) Know that visits home for the holidays are not going to heal old wounds.
I have visited Houston almost every year and not once has my mother apologized for perming my hair in third grade.
3) Schedule some self-care time.
Usually the holidays mean kids are off their normal schedules, you are off your normal schedule, and then everyone goes a little bonkers. It is important to be intentional about carving out self-care time. Maybe book a massage for yourself. Or try a new exercise class. Or ask Grandma to watch the kids while you go take a bubble bath or meditate. Plan the self-care in advance and protect it with your life!
4) Say “No”.
When your mother asks if you want to spend five hours at the Natural History Museum gift shop and you know that will make you want to pull every hair from your head just say “No thanks”. It is okay to say no. It is healthy, try it – it feels great!
5) Have realistic expectations.
Even if you imagine the perfect holiday in which everyone drinks hot cocoa and snuggles in matching pajamas (I don’t secretly fantasize about that – you do). Keep in mind that is probably not going to happen and that is okay. Take what you can get. If you get a few people in matching pajamas, great. Or you get one sip of hot cocoa before your child knocks the mug from your face with a bouncy ball, know you had a moment, and life isn’t perfect.
Above all, just try to enjoy the moments with your family, even all the imperfect ones. Happy Holidays!