I know that this is the” most wonderful time of the year” and ”tis the season to be jolly,” but I must confess that I have my bouts of anxiety and crankiness during the hectic holiday season.  Especially when I think about all of the quality time I will be spending with some “quirky” family members at holiday gatherings.  Do you too?

For the most part, I feel like this during the Christmas season, especially now that I have a family of my own to share in the joy:

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But when I think about the time I may have to spend at large family gatherings, I get a little anxious and can sometimes feel like this:

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For the most part, my family is pretty amazing and wonderful, but there are some out there who can  get on my nerves cause me a little stress.  So I have compiled a list of ways to survive some of the not so fun parts about holiday gatherings, while preserving the joy of the season.  Many of these involve alcohol and I cannot follow them this year because I am eight months pregnant, but hey,there’s always next year!

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Take a shot of whiskey (or whatever you prefer), to calm your nerves before you are bombarded by immediate and extended family members.  A good friend of mine has been doing this before every family gathering for years. Even her husband and kids remind her of this ritual and break out the bottle and shot glass for her, while she meditates and channels positive thoughts.

Bottoms up, sugar plum!

Bottoms up, sugar plum!

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If you find yourself in an uncomfortable conversation hearing about Uncle Bob’s most recent colonoscopy or you’re trapped in a corner with your pushy Aunt Hilda lecturing you on sleep training, simply say “Ohhh, I think I hear my little one crying…” and run like the wind.  The best part of having kids is using them as an escape mechanism at parties.

At the risk of sounding like an alcoholic, slip some rum or vodka in your eggnog, cider, or coffee so that your family members don’t think you have a drinking problem.  I also love the very “discreet” plastic cup to conceal your nectar of merriment.  Sure it brings me back to college frat party days, but hey, it looks pretty festive, right? You can even jazz up and personalize your plastic cup by taping some snowflakes or holiday stickers on it. For those of you (like me this year) who don’t drink, I find that pounding chamomile tea helps soothe the nerves. Chocolate also helps too.  And lots of cookies.

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If small talk is not your thing, the next option is to bust out the holiday games!   Preferably one that is not too competitive or could cause fist fights.  For us we play Tombola which is an Italian version of Bingo that is played at Christmas and New Year’s, so it’s all about luck and not necessarily skill (especially if you’re drinking all that “egg nog”).  Between jovial shouts of “Tombolaaaa!,” we laugh a lot. And though we may win and lose some games (and maybe some money), the most important thing is we all have a great time together.   Also, there’s nothing like a  fun round of Yankee Swap to get families laughing and to lift everyone’s spirits.  It’s always fun to watch Grandma walk off with a staple gun and your cousin Jeremy end up with a woman’s handbag.

Tombola anyone?

Tombola anyone?

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Remember that everyone is doing the best they can in life.  Cherish your time with friends and family, because it will fly by.  Focus on the present beauty of togetherness – for the benefit of your spouse, for your children, and most of all – for YOU!  Treasure your memories and for every snarky comment you may get thrown your way, react with a smile, a laugh, and have “Auld Lang Syne” humming in the back of your mind at all times. (Yes, these are the things I say to myself over and over again until it really sinks in.)

What survival strategies do you use to help you through holiday gatherings?

Wishing you and your families:

Joy, Hope, Love, and Peace

 

 

 

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