How to Survive the Holidays With Family

Joseph Letizio ‘22

Although each family is different, the holidays seem to always bring out the best and worst in people. From being stuck at the kids table, to random guests, the holidays with family are sure to keep us entertained. No matter what is going on, the holidays are always crazy for me and my family. With this in mind, here are my top 6 tips for surviving the holidays.

The first tip when it comes to surviving the holidays with my family is don’t expect people to change. While we all have our flaws, it is important to embrace the good and bad traits in each one of us. Whether it is the relative who drinks too much, the couple who exudes tension or whatever/whoever irritates you keep in mind that the same thing may occur again the following year. With this in mind, if you go into the holidays hoping people will be different this year, will unfortunately set you up for disappointment. While a family member’s bad trait does not add value to events it is okay for people to educate those in their family who are simply wrong, there is nothing wrong with that.

The second tip I encourage you to follow if you have a crazy family like mine is to put the “fun” in dysfunctional. If there is lots of unstructured time, that is usually when my family tends to be a little dysfunctional. Whether this occurs while watching a movie, playing a game, or going for a walk. When things take a turn sideways embrace the moment because before you know it, the moment is gone.

Going off of this, plan ahead and set limits ahead of time about things like how long you might stay at a family function, rent a car if you are flying so you have the freedom to come and go because if you are stuck in the house, take a walk or call a friend. Through establishing coping strategies in mind before you go somewhere will help ease the tension(s) if any arise.

While family can drive anyone crazy from time to time, it is important to also understand that it’s not about you. While we all have a tendency to revert to our childhood selves when we’re with our families, as I’ve seen it through my own parents. It is important to not judge yourself too harshly for reverting to childhood behaviors, and to not let the way your family treats you to get too far under your skin.

Remind yourself that the way you interact with your family does not reflect on who you are as an adult. From this experience alone, it is important to plan responses in advance when around family because if you can expect intrusive questions about your personal life from your family when you’re single, or when you’re married but don’t have kids, to gaining weight/weight loss be prepared with some canned responses; this could even be a time when white lies can come in handy. (Though be cautious when using them).

No matter how crazy, dysfunctional or loud my relatives are during the holidays, the memories are what matter most because before you know it families change, people move on and traditions start again so cherish every second of the holidays while surviving with this list. 

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