Holidays! This is the time of the year when people go visit their families for, supposedly, good times and a nice meal together.

Well, these are gatherings where we revive family ties and catch up on news from everyone. More often than not, though, what we see is a gathering of a bunch of people who have nothing in common, really. Here sits a bunch of strangers called relatives: uncles, cousins, in-laws, friends of family, nephews, etc. all dressed up with nowhere but a family dinner to go.

After greeting everyone, you decide to take a look at what others are doing. You will regrettably realize that some will drink too much; others will eat too much; others won’t turn off the television; others will only serve others, and still others will never stop cleaning. You want to make small talk but after some futile attempts, you get bored.

To make matters worse, some will do nothing but criticize everyone else while others, especially the ones doing all the cleaning will make everyone else feel guilty. And to complete the ordeal, there are also those who, no matter what, will bring up politics and religion to the table, just to heat up the conversation.

An even worse case scenario would be if the visit is to your spouse’s family rather than your own. Than, the nightmare would be complete. Oh, yes! You think for a moment that your family is not comprised of a bunch of weirdos as his or her family is.

Dream on! Your life-partner will feel just the opposite!

So, how do we deal with such a situation? Here are some tips on how to get through the holidays this season:

1) Acknowledge your feelings to yourself. Part of what makes you so miserable is your inability to admit your negative feelings for another member of your family. Face it, just because backslapping, loud Uncle Joe is your Dad’s brother doesn’t mean you have to like him. Just acknowledging to yourself that he really bothers you, makes you feel more in control. And now you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Your family holiday reunion may even be pleasant this time around.

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2)Before attending any family event, determine how much time you will stay. Let the host or hostess know, regretfully of course, that you have to leave at a certain time. If you’re visiting out-of-town relatives, schedule some time away from them and don’t stay too many days. The longer some folks are together, the more they grate on each other’s nerves.

3)Limit your alcohol intake at family functions. Alcohol clouds your judgement, and inhibits your ability to consider those around you. Saying what you think to Uncle Joe or Aunt Mary may make you feel better at the moment, but tomorrow you will regret hurting your Dad’s feelings, possibly ruining everyone’s holiday for a momentary satisfaction. It’s not worth it.

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