Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Handbook: Not So Great Expectations

The holidays. At times, hectic. Hopefully not horrific. Possibly holy (if you are so inclined). Occassionally hilarious. And, if we are lucky, for the most part happy. Join me on Mondays as we find ways to navigate the Season with style and smarts, and, most importantly, without losing our sanity.
Thanksgiving is days away and it officially kicks off the Holiday Season. As we plan to stuff the turkey, glaze the ham and settle in for a day often filled with family and football, it's a good time to make sure we get real and set some realistic expectations.
Norman Rockwell makes some wonderful portraits of American families, especially at the holidays, but let's face it, he's never pictured evil in-laws, overly sensitive sisters, drunken uncles, prickly parents, bratty kids, noisy neighbors and the otherwise un-PC people who sit around your holiday table.
So here are some tips that can make the holiday more enjoyable than ever.
Spread It Out: If you are hosting dinner, give others a chance to participate. If your aunt makes a mean macaroni and cheese, then let her make it. If your sister knows how to buy a wonderful cake, let her do it. More than food, the holiday is about family and friends, give your self time to get out of the kitchen and enjoy them.
Have an Ally: I have an aunt, I love her dearly and I know she means well ... but what she calls 'honesty', the rest of us call inappropriate and rude, at best, and cruel and mean, at worst. So my cousins and I have each others back. I swoop in when she starts in on my cousin's divorce or my other cousin's employment issues. They swoop in when she starts on my weight gain and single status. We don't start an argument, we just try to change the subject and if that doesn't work, we make an excuse to get out of her presence for a minute. It works.
Make It Kid-Friendly: We all know about the kiddie table for dinner, but give the kids activities that keep them occupied and make them age-specific. Toddlers might appreciate coloring andwatching Jacks' Big Music Show but I doubt your teen would find that appealing.
Focus on Fun: A lot of times we make things worse by dreading them. Instead of focusing on the in-law from hell or the seemingly endless hours of football, focus on reconnecting with your favorite cousin or delving into that delicious peach cobbler.
Remember the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. I'm focusing on the acceptance part here. For example, I have the wisdom to know I can't change my aunt, so I have to work on accepting her. I can enjoy her company (while she's being good!) and excuse myself when she 'gets started.' You can't change people but you can change how you see them and how you react to them.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

No comments: