One would think that holidays are a time devoted exclusively to peace and joyful celebrations. Think again. For some reason, instead of peace and joy for the holidays, it can become a family recipe for disaster.
In truth, tensions among family members are often exacerbated by ongoing disputes, rivalry and conflicting expectations for the holiday. Disputes over lifestyles, new marriages, divorces or just plain bad manners can be the source of family disagreements. Of course, we as parents 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:
· Fun is the always a great buffer. Singing Christmas carols, playing musical instruments, putting on a talent show and playing noncompetitive games are all great ways to get everyone to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Last year we did our own photo booth, which was a huge hit.
· Check the emotional baggage at the door. Remind those that you know like to stir the trouble pot in a nice way that this is a time for peace, joy and happiness with family and that no one should waste time on things that can be discussed during the other 364 days of the year.
· 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, and one family member started a book club, and 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 so that there are no disagreements or issues that can be addressed before the holidays roll around again.