With CNY looming around the corner, we’re excited for all the festive reasons! But with the holidays comes a ton of family gatherings and we’re not sure if we’re big fans of those…
Don’t get us wrong, this doesn’t mean we don’t care for our families. It’s just that the trouble with the holidays is that you HAVE to visit certain family members that can often drive you up the wall or stress you out.
While there’s no way to completely escape those cringe-worthy questions and awkward situations, like everything in life, there are ways for you to deal with them effectively without losing your mind. Maybe a little but hey, nothing good ever comes easy. With that in mind, here’s how to survive family gatherings like a boss:
1. Accept what you can’t change – There will, no doubt, be relatives that you can’t stand when there’s a gathering with a large number of relatives. And the number one issue with these relatives is simply that they’re being themselves. Exactly as they’ve always been, year after year. And you’d usually get upset because you can’t accept it. So hoping that this year will be different will only set you up for disappointment. But on the off chance that they do change for the better, be pleasantly surprised.
2. Hack the conversation – I’m married and ever since the wedding, I’ve been bombarded with questions like, “So when’s the baby coming?” and, “It’s been 3 years, are you sure everything’s working down there?”. Even if I’m planning to have a child anytime soon, they’re still cringe-worthy questions that may or may not incite a low blow from me. So I’ve learned that “an eye for an eye” doesn’t necessarily work and it’s just better to swiftly maneuver the conversation away from the topic, sprinkle in some polite sarcasm and move on.
3. Be aware of how much you’re drinking – More often than not, alcohol helps everyone take their inhibitions down a few notches. While a glass of wine (or five) may seem like a great way to handle the stress, the ugly truth is that alcohol can definitely increase the likelihood of conflict. Avoid this by not refilling your cup with the spiked punch one too many times. Also, since alcohol is a natural depressant, overdoing it can contribute to feelings of sadness and disappointment.
4. Dodge recurring heated debates – Sure, joining in and openly expressing your views and opinions on politics, religion or what have you may seem fun. Until Uncle Jim and Aunty Mary takes your somewhat liberal opinions a little too seriously and take that as a direct attack on their opposing views. Avoid getting into this sticky situation by steering clear of heated debates religiously. Trust me, you don’t need the added negativity in your life.
5. Avoid passive aggressive manipulation – We all have one of those relatives who come at you with so much passive aggressive-ness that you’re left wondering just what the hell did you do to incite such (subtle) hate? Thing is, you could be the best person in the world and there’ll always be people who’d hate on you. And that’s okay. But if it’s starting to affect you, confront the person openly and calmly and share your feelings about what he/she just said that hurt you. Chances are they won’t be doing it again for awhile. Not to you, at least.
6. Set secure boundaries – If you’re hosting, family members may overstay their welcome. Hence, properly communicate the start and finish time of the gathering and stick to it. Remember, you’d probably be left cleaning up, so it’s best to make sure everyone knows when to leave to avoid you cleaning till the wee hours of the morning. Also, avoid discussing triggering topics and don’t repeat unhealthy communication patterns like throwing insensitive comments and going, “No offence, though”. There is a time and place for difficult conversations and conflict resolutions. And that time and place is not around the dinner table.
7. Remember that it isn’t always about you – When confronted with questions you hate or unnecessary negativity, remember that the way people act is usually a reflection of what they’re going through. Chances are that those snarky remarks and questions you absolutely hate come from a deeper and darker place than you know. Maybe your relative is going through a bad day, maybe life kinda sucks for them right now. Who knows? What’s important that, more often than not, you’re probably not the reason they’re acting this way.
8. Be grateful – There are always things you can look forward to at family gatherings – seeing your parents, eating your aunt’s pot roast, your favourite cousin’s return from The States etc. So if there’s a family gathering that you’re dreading, look on the bright side and think of all the things you’re grateful for and have a good time.
9. Have an exit strategy – If you’re not planning to get roped into staying longer than you should at that annoying relative’s dinner party, make sure you’ve got an exit strategy at hand. You may have a friend call you (or you call a friend) with an “emergency”, or that your pet is ill. Whatever you find plausible, arm yourself with a potential excuse if you’re feeling uncomfortable with your relative.
10. If all else fails, remember that you don’t have to like them – There’s likely nothing you can do to change the relative you can’t get along with. But it’s also important to note that you don’t have to like them either. If you really can’t stand them, there’s no need in exchanging spats or being too sweet to the point of seeming fake. Just stay civil and diplomatic. It’s all gonna be over in a couple of hours anyway.
Until then, enjoy the festivities and family gatherings, my loves.