Have a Peaceful Holiday

peaceful holiday

The holidays are a time when most families get together to celebrate.  It's also a time when old tensions can flare up among family members. My sister loves to remind my brother Steve about the time when he broke her dinosaur toy.  He was about four or five years old when he decapitated her beloved brontosaurus.  Did I mention this happened over 50 years ago? Yet it never fails to get under Steve's skin and irk him when she picks up the "remember when" thread around the dinner table and that little wax dinosaur comes up. How many times can a 50-year-old man apologize for the actions of his 4-year-old self, anyway?

If that sounds like your typical family gathering, then you're not alone. The holidays bring us together with our family of origin. And when you get together with that tribe called family, old tensions can spark and flare into quarrels. Peace, love and joy fly right out the window when someone brings up the old broken toy, the promises broken, the embarrassing moments.

Here's how to keep your family get togethers merry and bright this holiday season and maintain your equilibrium without hitting the eggnog.

Remember: It's Only One Day

It's only one day. Out of one full day, chances are you're really only spending a few hours with that annoying person. So grin and bear it. Recognize that in a few hours, you'll be on your way back to the life that you've chosen.

Remember: Steer Clear of Minefields

The broken brontosaurus toy is a minefield between my eldest brother and sister.  My brother and I share some tensions around his lifestyle choices and mine.  He doesn't understand why I left a full throttle executive career in Manhattan with a private office, expensive account, and car service. I don't understand how he can continue to pursue what I now consider the empty dream and valueless lifestyle of the Manhattan executive.  How do we handle it? We steer clear of that particular minefield. We try to focus on things we have in common.  They're pretty few and far between, since we are two very different people who happen to share the same biological parents, but there are a few shared interests: hiking the Appalachian trail, camping, and unique travel destinations.

If you're dealing with a sibling or relative who tends to spark a quarrel with you, how about sidestepping that particular landmine this year? You can be blunt about it and say, "You know, I really hate it that every Thanksgiving, we end up getting into a heated political discussion; how about this year we just agree not to talk about  it?" You may be surprised. The other person may be just as relieved as you are to avoid an unpleasant scene!

Remember: Choose Your Response

If despite your best efforts you find that old family tensions erupt, there are a few things you can do. You can gently and kindly try to steer a heated debate into neutral territory. You can suggest that one of the quarreling folks join you in the kitchen to help with cleanup, or maybe take a walk outside to get a breath of fresh air.  You can throw a new topic into the ring that's neutral. You can choose how you respond to others; how you decide to react can guide family time together into more positive, loving tracks.

Some families, unfortunately, have more serious problems that arise during time together. For those families, professional help is warranted. Thankfully though most of us only have to deal with someone with strong opinion, someone who thinks our raw, vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is peculiar, or someone who roots for the opposite sports team. And if that's the case, then choosing your response, focusing on the positive, and sidestepping the minefields should help.

Happy holidays!

These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.

Written by:  Jeanne Grunert
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