Time to give thanks for all our blessings? ‘Tis the season to be jolly? Somehow, it doesn’t always work out that way when it comes to families and holidays. These are the moments that are designed to bring us together, but they can often tear us further apart. It doesn’t have to be that way. Family harmony can be attained during the holidays and we’re going to help show you how.
Here are 10 ways to reduce family fighting over the holidays:
Do Not Seek Perfection
The classic perfect image of the holidays: Fresh-fallen snow glistening outside and a roaring blaze crackling inside a giant, stone fireplace. Happy faces, hot chocolate and the gift that we always wanted. Reality? In most areas the snow comes from a can. Your three-year-old spilled the hot chocolate all over him and you. The wrapped box you have stared at for two weeks turned out to be a red tie with reindeer on it.
Perfect holidays only exist in movies and the afterlife. Here on earth, we need to lessen the expectations. Seeking the perfect holiday only creates a high level of stress for you and everyone involved. Let things happen naturally.
Reasons For The Seasons
Usually lost in the mix of the holiday rush are the actual reasons we are celebrating. We worry about family members that don’t get along. We stress over gift lists, budgets and menus. The tensions are so high that bickering and resentment become the featured guests at our gathering. Instead, try to maximize the importance of the holiday itself. The majority of holidays this time of year are faith based. Moments to reflect and display our appreciation for blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Focus on the reason and not the season.
We all have our opinions and we all think we are right. Your brother is bringing his third wife over for the family celebration. His first wife and the mother of his children will be there as well. Your Mom has left your father after 35 years and is dating a man 20 years younger. She will not come unless her new boyfriend is welcome. The simple truth is that none of these issues will be solved during this holiday. Try to keep your opinions in check and practice acceptance. No matter the family issue (and every family is full of them) put it aside at this special time. Declare your home a drama free zone for just this little bit of time.
Do Not Add Fuel To The Fire
The cup of hot cocoa is helping you relax and deal with the situation, but your mother-in-law has been secretly sneaking shots of bourbon on trips to the bathroom. Your brothers have been drinking beer since 10 am. All this adds up to a volatile explosive mix just waiting for the spark to ignite it. Booze almost always creates high drama, and adds fuel to an already hot fire. Despite the protests, you may need to tell your guests that alcohol will not be a part of your celebration.
Declare A Truce
Before the family gathering ever occurs, take preventive measures to reduce possible conflict. If you can, pinpoint the issues that are most likely to overtake center stage. Attempt to solve the problem(s) before the family gathers. If that isn’t possible, arrange a holiday truce to be in effect. Facing a little discomfort now is better than around the holiday dinner table.
Children have delicate ears and innocent hearts. Use this to your advantage. If guilt works to get the adults to shape up, then use that bullet without hesitation. Place the children in strategic locations throughout the entire celebration. Tongues will have to be held. Bad habits will be kept in check. Peace for the sake of the children will be declared. It might be sneaky but it works.
Music calms even the most bitter of hearts. It might sound corny, but having the family gather to sing holiday classics is a perfectly brilliant idea. Consider yourself the pied piper. Whether around the piano, or a karaoke machine, get everyone involved in the singing. Smirks will be replaced with smiles. Laughter will begin to spread around the room. Music has remarkable abilities. (And after you sing, try sharing some of these 10 great Christmas stories!)
The Governor Has Issued a Pardon
It is time to forgive. You have fought with your sister for 10 years and nothing has been resolved. Issue a full and completely absolving pardon. Be the bigger person. Forgiveness can be the best gift you give this holiday! Use this season to begin a new and positive chapter in your family relationships.
Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh
Just like music, humor has astonishing abilities. Despite your best efforts to avoid it, a full-blown dramatic explosion has occurred right in your living room. Tears are flowing. The screaming match has begun. What are you going to do? First address both parties in a calm voice, then try to find something—anything—to get them to laugh. Once you can get them smiling and hopefully laughing, the tensions will wash away behind a tide of laughter. You haven’t solved the issue, but the drama bomb has been defused.
In the bigger picture, isn’t it wonderful to even have a family? So many people are completely alone in this world. As your family sits around the table eating dry turkey, a man is huddled up behind a grocery store dumpster seeking scraps. A woman sits alone in the dark crying as addiction has destroyed her life. Children, orphaned and homeless, dream of what life must be like for children who have the things they so desperately miss. There, but for the grace of God, go I. Get on your knees and give thanks for this grace, and everything else will seem small in comparison.
Already streaming your favorite holiday films? Find out what you can learn from three favorite Christmas movies.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your children tonight and ask: What is one thing you think you could do this year to make Christmas better for everyone?