And the Best Family Member Award this Holiday Season Goes to...
The holidays are here! I have to say, Thanksgiving is my #1 favorite holiday by a landslide. No contest. First, the food is the best ever! We also don’t have to do any weird present giving, no thank you cards, no trying to think of something to get someone that they won't want to throw away immediately, and feeling guilty about throwing away unwanted gifts given to you. Thanksgiving also has the perfect weather. I’m from New England, and that means the leaves are changing color (I love stepping on the crunchy ones). It's cool but not freezing cold, sweater, vest and boot weather, but inside with food and family, it's so cozy. I just love it. I am so excited.
Lately, as people do when they get older, I have started talking about myself less and asking questions more. This does not come easily to me, might I add, where I do have a hard time thinking of questions to ask people. But, I have also realized that one of my strengths is not shying away from any type of conversation. Communication is key, after all.
But we all have family drama, right? And it can get a little tricky with emotions running high. I don’t think you want to be the one that brings down the mood when you all sit down to the table, but maybe you do. To each their own holiday. For me, I always try to be the best possible person I can be. Well, here’s how to win Best Family Member Award at your holiday gathering this season!
1. Get comfortable.
Being mentally comfortable going to your family holiday gathering might be impossible, but you can start by being physically comfortable. Baby steps here. Preparing for the party means different things to different people, but nobody is in a good mood when they are cold and hungry. For example, since it is starting to get cold, wear some layers, ditch the heels and opt for boots and a cozy sweater, maybe some leggings so they can stretch with the food (there are no diets this time of year). If you have food allergies maybe offer to bring something you know you will be able to eat. If you are going to a big party, bring your Go Bag. That includes anything you might need. For me, I always have chapstick, lotion, extra quarters, Pepto, Advil, and toilet paper in my purse for those emergencies. You never know...
2. Get in the right mindset.
Athletes visualize their success before a big game, and it works! Well, this is a marathon, people! Visualize going into the event and what you want the outcome to be. Haven't seen your long lost aunt in a while? Visualize reconnecting. Not getting along with your cousin? Set yourself up to be the bigger person, whether that means apologizing, or ignoring dramatic situations and being friendly. Stay focused on those goals and they will become a reality!
3. Prepare what you are going to say.
Is there a touchy subject for you right now? Maybe you just moved and your bank account hasn't stopped bleeding, maybe you just broke up with your significant other, or lost your job and are hunting again. People will ask. We are curious by nature, and they are also your family so they want to make sure you are on the right path. Know what you are going to say, so you can avoid getting frustrated. Maybe you don't like talking about the job hunt, but you have one place that you applied that you could mention. Say you're really excited about that one and just talk about that instead of the whole process. Or go the other way, say your looking into a certain field and not limiting yourself, end with an, "I'll get there!" exclamation and a motivational thumbs up! Give a little, and set clear boundaries, then change the subject.
4. Be on time.
Don’t insult the host and other guests who are looking forward to seeing you by being late. And don’t overstay your welcome. This is also a great reason why you shouldn't get too drunk. You will either unknowingly overstay your welcome, or ditch out to early out of necessity. You don't miss out on apple pie! Consider sending a thank you note/email/phone call to the host(s) for hosting. It takes a lot, and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
5. Never come empty-handed.
Even if it is just a little thing. It is the thought that counts here, saying you understand and are grateful for the host for hosting. Smile. It's the holidays. :)
6. Help in the kitchen
But only if it makes sense to. Sometimes there just isn't enough room. But this is a good option for those introverts that want to avoid all the questions and people, but still be gracious.
7. Alcohol. Drink it.
But not too much. It will help... then hurt. We are talking about a major bell curve here. Loosen the tongue, but don't cause harm and dysfunction. I think it was three holidays ago now, maybe only two, where my mom, sister and I got too drunk, upset my other sister, and embarrassed ourselves in front of family members we had never met before. There were storming-offs and broken glasses and all sorts of dysfunction. I don’t recommend it.
This one can be super difficult because we all get frustrated when our family is just "trying to help" and bombards us with advice we don't need or want to take. But, we tend to also throw out advice at other family members when they are in a tight spot too. It's hard not to try and steer someone we care about in the direction we know they should go. Unfortunately for us, we don't know best, even though we think we do, and pushing them in one direction can leave them not trusting you, or blaming you for their future problems. Instead, listen, and support whatever they are leaning toward. It is fine to offer some sort of advice since you have been around the bend once or twice, but with the mindset that they don't have to take it. They will make their own mistakes, you can't prevent them from making any. Don't tell them, show them with a story. Have a conversation that fosters trust, respect, and support.
9. What do they need?
Realize it is not about you, but about them. People will remember and appreciate a conversation where they are asked about themselves. Be that person for someone else. While you are listening to their news, ask yourself “what do they need from me”. For example, my Grandma’s last ski season was this past year (at 83!!!! WTF) and she was really struggling with it. She brings it up a lot. What she does have, though is her amazing art. And that is something we really bond over. So what she needs from me, is to talk about that, connect with her, support her hobby, and share mine. Another example, at a recent family reunion all the cousins were together, almost all of them in their late teens, and I noticed that one of them was really becoming so pretty! You know those teenage years can be rough, but she is really naturally beautiful. Later that week my Mom, Aunt, and Uncle were talking about how another cousin was really starting to come into their own. And I said, "Yano who I think is the most gorgeous of them all so far!" They were like no way not her, she is so self-conscious, she doesn’t think any of the boys like her! So I went up to her and said that I thought she was the most beautiful one of them all. She needed that, and it was the truth. Make a difference while you are together. Maybe someone just needs to be told that they are really doing a great job and that you are proud of them. Even if they are older than you, it makes a difference.
10. Help clean up.
This is another reason why you don’t want to get too drunk. Help clean up. Would you want to be left with a huge mess if you were hosting? Plus, the hosts should be able to enjoy themselves too.
I did lie a little... there's no physical award. Sorry. Most of the time you will have to take your pride, knowing you’re the best, and silently head back to your regular life. Maybe that's what family is all about. Either way, here's to the best holiday season yet! :)
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