Missed flights. Bumper-to-bumper traffic. Cell phone chargers left home. Food spilled in vehicles.
This week marks the kickoff of the “holiday” season and there will be countless family members in crisis mode. People who aside from being blood-related have little, to nothing, to do with one another otherwise will come “together” to commemorate and celebrate the “gift” of family.
There will be a lot of fake smiles, air kisses and half-hearted hugs.
You will witness the culinary cook-offs between family members (“who made the potato salad?”), hear rumors (“you know auntie is messing with Mr. So-and-So”), observe travesties (“your cousin is out there with his friends smoking weed again…”) and be pulled into conflicts (“isn’t this turkey dry?”).
Some will give those who accompany them sideway glances and others will have to inebriate themselves in order to restrain their urge to spazz out.
In the interest of minimizing conflict, I would like to share a few helpful tips on Surviving Family Drama.
MEDITATE & PRAY before you leave your house. While en route bring along some soothing music or a motivational CD/MP3 to keep your spirits lifted. Focus on the positives even if you know you are headed into a negative setting.
DON’T SHOW UP EMPTY HANDED. Even if you can’t or don’t cook, bring something. A dessert, bottle of wine (be careful if they’re super-religious) or apple cider, fruit salad, anything besides your Tupperware.
GET THERE EARLY and make it known in advance that you have to “make a few more stops” to enable you to make a quick exit. Leave before those difficult relatives arrive. Remember, most of the drama typically begins when the late-comers arrive and try to play catch up with their accelerated drinking, etc.
REHEARSE YOUR CONVERSATIONS in order to work through the snags that will likely trip you up and lead to saying regrettable things. Avoid politics and religion, if possible. If not, remain neutral in your responses listening to others and appearing to be in deep thought about their remarks. Practice en route with your spouse, significant other or children. Use role playing to prevent and resolve verbal jousts.
ELIMINATE TMI by not over-sharing information which will likely contribute to a hostile environment. It’s not necessary to brag about your promotion, point out how well your children are doing in school or volunteer that you’re making $______.
DEVELOP A SIGNAL ahead of time with those who accompany you, which clearly indicates “it’s time to go” and agree to stick to the escape plan without deviation. Maybe one of you can be the “subject changer” and another can be the “ready to go” person, but make sure your signal isn’t blatantly obvious. When the signal is used, be cordial and get the hell out of there.
FAKE AN EMERGENCY by prearranging a scheduled call. Have this individual call the phone of someone else in the house claiming they “couldn’t get a hold of you” and this way there is even more legitimacy to the urgency of the “emergency” when you hang up and claim to have to go immediately.
DESIGNATE A DRIVER if you’re going to drink. This is a long holiday weekend and getting a DWI and arrested is not a good look. Spending the weekend in a holding cell is so 2008.
REMAIN FOCUSED when others try to pick fights with you say, “I came to have a good time with family, not discuss…” and make certain to smile while saying this.
Remember, you choose your friends, coworkers and neighbors – not your family.