Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. —1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV
Thanksgiving and Christmas can be special holidays, but sometimes dealing with family time can be stressful.
Maybe you don’t get along with everyone in your family. Or perhaps you are just not used to spend much time with them. It could be that you set high expectations for a picture perfect time with family, but you know that is not realistic.
So, what can you do to enjoy this time of year? Here are a few ideas:
1. Plan well. If you are travelling to visit family or if they are travelling to visit you, make sure you know exactly who is staying where. Don’t surprise both sides of the family by having them all show up at once. Especially if those sides are divorced parents who don’t get along.
Speaking of which, don’t be afraid to set boundaries with family. If you invite family to your home, make it clear who is staying where. Be fair. But be firm. And if you are going to stay with family, make sure it is clear what the expectations are.
Will you need to bring an air mattress? Should you plan to chip in for groceries? Is there a “lights out” time at the home you will be visiting? Some of these may sound silly, but they can help avoid problems between you and your loved ones.
2. Stay away from controversial topics. I am not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t share your faith with the people you care about the most. What I am saying is that talking politics over the turkey or about the reality of Hell as you decorate the tree may not win you any points with your family.
In today’s society when many people live apart from their relatives, this precious time together should be spent enjoying and sharing life together. That doesn’t mean you can’t have heart-to-heart convos … quite the opposite because face-to-face is the best way to have those. But, again, choose your words carefully. Don’t debate. Don’t argue. Just don’t!
3. Be flexible. Instead of being demanding and wanting to do everything your own way, allow your family to choose the restaurant, the activity or the movie. In addition to this kind of flexibility, I encourage you to be forgiving.
If your loved one gets irritable when tired or hungry, try not to take it personally. Remember, you may not get to spend much time with them and should take advantage of this time together by focusing on being together rather than what you are doing together.
Finally, be willing to pitch in and help out AND allow others to do the same. This makes less work and less stress for everyone.
I hope your family time is wonderful this holiday season. If you are not able to see your family at this time of year, you can still use these tips at other times of year. Tomorrow we will talk about the heart of the matter … the reason for the season.
Your turn: Do you have any other tips for getting along with family over the holidays?