The holiday season is upon us and it comes with all the fun and stress. I’m not an expert on navigating the holidays, but I’ve survived so far and I’m pretty good at managing chaos, so here are my tips for surviving the holidays.

Just as a reminder, always put your mental health first, you shouldn’t hurt yourself to make others happy.

Family you choose

For some reason, holidays turn loving families into the Griswolds or Ralphie’s dad from the Christmas Story. Grandpa is going on and on about the NRA, mom is trying to keep the peace, your siblings are guzzling wine and you’re currently hiding in the closet to avoid discussing politics – hurts to be the only liberal in the family. If you would like to avoid the trauma, drama and karma…opt out of the family gathering and host a friendsgiving and friendsmas. Invite the people you like, assign them a dish to bring (skip the fruitcake) and gather around your own table for food, friends, and fun.

If the guilt of missing a family gathering is too much for you, might we suggest showing up for hors ‘de oeuvres and a few drinks? You made your appearance, now go preserve your sanity.

Escape

Plan a getaway, whether it is a cabin in the woods or a hotel with a pool for the kiddos. Family time can be done in small doses. If you are committed to seeing your family, then set up one-on-one time with them away from the drama.

There is no rule that you HAVE to do things the way they have always been done. Break the cycle.

Make new traditions

Just because it’s always been done one way, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. If there are individuals within your family who feel the same way as you about holiday gatherings, set up a time with them away from the drama.

I do this with one of my sisters-in-law and nephews. I don’t want nor need to be in the middle of a family Christmas where we all pretend to like each other, refuse to address the elephant in the room and I have to drink a bottle of wine just to make it through the evening. It isn’t worth it.

Fight it out

The other thing you can do is put on your fighting gloves and duke it out. I don’t suggest this option, as it is impossible to reason with some family members and you will only leave frustrated and angry.

At the end of the day, you need to do what is right for your family and your sanity. The holidays should be a time of celebration and joy, not ulcers and anxiety.

What are your creative ideas for managing the holidays?

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