The holiday season should be a time devoted exclusively to peace and joyful celebrations. When you think about this time of year, what comes to mind? For me, it’s time with family and friends. In the hustle of everyday life, it is nice to take a step back to spend time with the people you love.
But, the holidays are often the only time that most of the family can get together at once. So, many times families must have difficult conversations during this time. For example, a common conversation is how to continue caring for an aging parent, uncle, aunt or grandparent.
In truth, tensions like this among family members are often exacerbated by ongoing disputes, rivalry and conflicting expectations for the holiday. Of course, we feel it is our responsibility to keep the peace, which is not always easy when you bring together several different personalities, all with different opinions.
Here are a few strategies to help keep the peace during your holiday gatherings:
- Set a time and place for difficult conversations that you have to have. And, only have the decision makers in the room. Too many opinions can make a hard conversation, even harder.
- Fun is the always a great buffer. Singing Christmas carols, playing musical instruments, putting on a talent show and playing games are all great ways to get everyone to relax and enjoy each other’s company. One year we did our own photo booth, which was a huge hit.
- Learn something new. During your holiday gathering, have each family member tell something new they learned or did for the first time this year. Your family will learn that they have a lot more in common than they think. We did this a few years ago, two family members who wanted to learn to quilt are now doing so with other family members.
Hopefully your holiday gatherings are peaceful, and the only disappointment you experience is when all of your loved ones leave. Remind everyone to reach out to each other throughout the year, and you could even set a goal for the family to come together again in the summer!
*Updated article from December 19, 2014