It’s happening again. Sleeping kids everywhere have those silly dancing sugarplums in their heads, but you’re tossing and turning with the vision of your obnoxious Aunt Helen barreling through the house complaining that there’s “Nothing to eat around here but cheese? What, do you want me to have a heart attack right in front of the tree?” Well… no, Aunt Helen. That would be bad.
Stop worrying and get some sleep! This year, you’ve made sure to be prepared for anything and everything (at least we hope you did!) and organized back up plans for even the most random guest request. Your nephew’s vegan girlfriend has a problem with the turkey? Tofu and veggies wrapped and ready to serve! Grandma Joan spends all night asking to be reminded of the names of each of her seven grandchildren? You bought all the kids personalized Santa hats, so Granny has a cheat sheet on each of their foreheads.
Nothing could go wrong that you haven’t thought of and prepared for already… so why are you still so stressed? You’re anticipating the drama.
When family gets together, invariably drama ensues. You may not be able to prevent it, but you can control how you react to it. Reducing family drama at the holidays can be as easy as shifting your perspective.
Soothing the savage beast… in YOU! You can keep a level head by preparing an auditory prescription for calm. Load up your iPod with your favorite music (keeping the guest list and occasion in mind) and you can compile a mix of your favorite fun and calming music to keep you floating through the festivities. Here’s a helpful How To in case you’re new to playlists. Add a few toe-tappers and Grinch-crushing feel good tunes, (and check out our favorite Christmas album http://bit.ly/JnWF9i ) and your personal playlist will keep everyone will in good spirits, most importantly, you.
Have a few conversation starters on hand to steer clear of troublesome topics. Avoid heavy subjects such as parents’ health issues or the kids’ trouble at school, which can stir up emotions you aren’t prepared to deal with during a holiday setting. And if listening to the same old small talk is as irritating to you as nails on a chalkboard, have a few go-to distractions ready. Write them down if you must, just be ready to toss out a new topic for them to dig into, and spare yourself the aggravation of listening to another 40-minute account of what traffic was like on the expressway on the way over.
There may be room at the Inn, but it’s definitely not in the kitchen! If you know what gets your ire up is interference in the kitchen, then prepare for the bulldozing relatives who can’t help but come in and “just add a little love” to whatever is in the oven. Make a couple of charming signs to post at the doorway, warding off unwelcome sous chefs. Say it sweetly, and they can’t complain. Then have an alternative activity to direct them too. Decide ahead of time what tasks you can save for guests… napkin folding and flower arranging can keep idle hands away from your stovetop!
Organizing is usually about the tangible things, but organizing your thoughts and being prepared for those non-material barbs that arise when family gathers is just as important this week. Getting your mental checklist straight can ensure you’ll stay calm and neutral, and maybe even be have a relaxing holiday! If it isn’t “Serenity Now!” then please tell us in the comments below, what is your pre-holiday mantra for staying calm in the midst of family?