Holiday Survival Guide

I know that going to grandmas's  house might not always be the best thing.  Sometimes we might dread the thought of getting together with our extended families.   I know that I have felt like this many times.  But I have learned a few things that might help you.
I have read a lot of self help books over the last year and I wanted to make it a goal to feel more comfortable with my extended family.  I knew that this would be tough.  They don't think the same as me and we don't even have a lot of the same belief systems.  I felt like a lot of the time I was defending myself or holding on to resentment from all the previous family gatherings.  So here is few things I have learned:
1- Go in with the thought that this going to be a great experience.  I know that seems impossible because the last events were horrible in your mind.  But you need to do some visualization before you get there.  Visualize what you think the perfect family gather would be.  Do your family members talk to you?  Do they listen to the things you say?  Are they excited to see you?  Visualize everything you want before you get there.  I know that this might seem silly.  But it really does work.  I tried this out.  I visualized myself laughing and having a good time.  Talking with everyone and feeling comfortable.  Guess what?  I let my guard down and I was actually able to do this.
2- Be authentic.  What does this mean?  I'll tell you. It means that you don't have to be anything you aren't to fit in.  You don't have to love the color red or eat foods that you detest.  You don't have to pretend that you can't wait for black Friday tomorrow, when you know that you will be home in bed sleeping in because that sounds like how you want to spend that Friday.  Being authentic doesn't mean that you have to dress in certain clothing that you know that your other sister in laws will be wearing.  It is okay to wear comfortable pair of pants you love that lets you eat as much as you want and that top that brings out the best color in your eyes.  Being authentic also means that you don't have to discuss the things everyone wants to.  You can be and do whatever is natural to you.  Don't think about, will they like me?  It doesn't matter.  When you are your natural self you will find that you are more comfortable and happier.
3- Keep strict boundaries.  Every relationship needs boundaries.  It keeps both parties safe.  It is okay to tell someone that is talking about a personal story about you, that this is making you feel really uncomfortable and lets change the subject.  You don't have to be rude.  You can say it in a polite manner that isn't offensive.  What if something is said and someone gets deffensive?  You don't have to get the blunt of someone's anger.  It is okay to say, "I didn't mean to say anything to offend you, that was never my intention.  Lets never bring this up again because my relationship with you is more important."  How can anyone argue with that.  Its also okay to have code words with your husband and kids to wrap this up because I have had enough and lets get out of here.  
4-Keep everything on the surface.  This is hard one.  We all want to know everyone else's business and to get involved in their lives.  To love them, it is better to just know what is on the surface.  Then there is never any judgement on anything that is personally going on in their lives.  It keeps things light.  Find topics that are great to talk bout that don't involve anything too personal about the other people.  
5-Last of all. I have always found that prayer has gotten me through some of the worst situations.  No one will even know that prayer that is going on in your head where you are pleading to find a way to stop talking about your aunt's medical problems and divorce.  I believe that when those prayers are going on in my head those thoughts immediately come to my mind for what to say in a better way than I know that I could come up with to get me out of these situations.  
I hope these 5 things help you.  I bet you have things that you have come up with also that you can add to list.  Remember that there is a reason that we are put in families.  It is made up of a lot of different personalities that are all so different from your own that you are able to see different perspectives and interests and overall to cope with any person that comes in your life.  Because you survived sharing a room with your sister all those years prepared you for your new boss at work.  Have a happy holiday and remember to enjoy those people that matter most in your life!

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