The holidays are a time of love and togetherness, but for many, they can also be a time of stress and frustration as we attempt to navigate our family’s unique brand of "eccentricity".
We don't choose our own families, and we can't always love the ones we marry into and they can't always love us. But, being respectful of each other's differences and different family styles is essential. Your children are lucky to have grandparents who want to be around them. Let your kids treasure these relationships. My grandparents are gone now, but I still remember some of the fun times we had together during the holidays.
So how should you prepare if you’re already dreading seeing your in-laws? Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this holiday season (and maybe even enjoy the time together).
1. Make a Resolution to Start Getting Along
Resolutions don't have to wait until January 1. If you are in a committed relationship, your in-laws aren't going anywhere any time soon, so instead of lamenting every time you have to go over to your in-law’s place, make a resolution to try and get along this year. You’ll have many years ahead of you to learn to get along, so it doesn't have do be some ground-breaking deep issue you conquer the first time. Think of a small step you can take and try it out (like ignoring your mother-in-law's comment about Junior's messy hair or choice of Christmas outfit).
2. Talk Openly with Your Partner Beforehand
Don’t keep your fears and anxieties to yourself! Talk to your partner about how you think the get-together is going to go. But don’t complain about how much you don’t like your in-laws. Say what worries you and ask for your spouse’s help. Be direct with what you need as well. For instance, you may need your spouse to back you up more often or be more proactive in planning the get-together. Just be thoughtful about how you discuss these concerns.
3. Take a Deep Breath
Relax and center yourself. Be as pleasant and engaged as you can be. Keep your attitude positive and your energy lighthearted. There is no point in wasting one minute of your life feeling badly about something that you cannot control, but you can get through this.
4. Remember, This Too Shall Pass
Once the holidays are over you’ll go back to your place and you can forget all about any annoyances. And don’t rehash what annoyed you; It will just start arguments with your spouse and cause even more problems. So make an appearance, paint on a smile, go home and forget about it. Don’t let your in-laws ruin your life or your relationship.
This holiday season, commit to being flexible, grounded and prepared. You might be surprised at how fun celebrating with the in-laws may actually be (if not, it will be over soon)!