Holiday How-To’s: Dealing With the Relatives

Jessica Maddox

Two adults cuddle around a crackling fire, their arms encircling each other’s cashmere sweaters.  An innocent little girl with rosy cheeks and golden ringlets is handed a single box wrapped in shiny red paper.  A gold bow perches on the corner of the box with the classic name “Lucy” handwritten on a tiny gift tag.  Inside is some valuable memento that will undoubtedly be cherished for years…or until the word “HALLMARK” flashes across the screen.

Are your holidays nothing like a Hallmark commercial?  Join the ninety-nine percent of us whose families bring one word to mind: chaos.  From crazy uncles who pry into everyone’s business to the aunt who belts out a sacrilegious version of “Oh Holy Night,” let’s face it—family is just plain stressful!  Read on for a student-friendly survival guide to the holidays, compiled by this Talisman staff writer with some guidance from Oprah, some medical professionals, and students like you.

 

Plan It Out

Remember this mantra: I am a survivor.   After fourteen or more years of ugly sweaters and grumpy grandparents, you probably have an idea of what to expect this holiday.   Use your past experiences to your advantage!   Make a mental list of all the family members you’ll only be giving a quick “hello” and “school is fine” followed by those you may actually enjoy talking to for more than two minutes. This strategy usually works because, in my experience, there is almost always a place to hide soon after “hello.”  You will not only dodge your family drama, but you might just have a happy holiday!

Use the Buddy System

Now that you’ve discovered how to avoid Uncle Joe and his never-ending questions, find your allies. Whether you can moan and groan with a cousin your age or simply tear open presents with the toddlers, you’ll be interacting with the family dynamic with minimal self-damage. Call up the most tolerable member of your family and swear not to leave each other’s side. Tag-teaming is sure to have a near-perfect success rate.

Distract Yourself

Want to avoid the family entirely? Make yourself look busy. The newest iPhone may have just come out, but I would steer clear of all electronics, as many elders consider blasting Ke$ha to be pretty rude. Try cooking dinner instead.  If you’re not a natural in the kitchen and this plan will lead to singed eyebrows, back away from the oven and pick up a book instead. The wonderful thing is that you don’t even have to read it – just flip the pages occasionally and say it’s for a school project.  Viola! It’s almost as good as earbuds.

Keep Conversations Short and Sweet

Tired of the family drama? Then don’t create it! When talking to the relatives, always say a quick “hello” and act amiably. Once you manage a few short responses, they’ll likely set you free in order to prey on other more talkative victims. The classic rule of thumb is this: don’t be rude, save the ‘tude.  It cuts down on your daily dose of drama, guaranteed.

With Christmas quickly approaching, I’ll leave you with one last bit of advice:

Keep calm and carol on.

 

For more tips, click on the links below:

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/12/09/6-tips-for-dealing-with-difficult-family-during-the-holidays/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/betsy-chasse/holidays-family_b_4309802.html

http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Dealing-with-a-Dysfunctional-Family-During-the-Holidays/1

 

Alternatives:

Are your holidays nothing like a Hallmark commercial?  Join the ninety-nine percent of us whose families bring one word to mind: chaos.  From crazy uncles who pry into everyone’s business to the aunt who belts out a sacrilegious version of “Oh Holy Night,” let’s face it—family is just plain stressful!  Read on for a student-friendly survival guide to the holidays, compiled by this Talisman staff writer with some guidance from Oprah, some medical professionals, and students like you.

Use the Buddy System

Now that you’ve discovered how to avoid Uncle Joe and his slurred speech, find your allies. Whether you can moan and groan with a cousin your age or simply tear open presents with the toddlers, you’ll be interacting with the family dynamic with minimal self-damage. Call up the most tolerable member of your family and swear not to leave each other’s side. Tag-teaming is sure to have a near-perfect success rate.

Or… Now that you’ve discovered how to avoid Uncle Joe and his never-ending questions, find your allies.