Author: Tabitha Caplinger
It’s the season for food and family and spending time with the people you love, but those can sometimes be the hardest people to spend time with. Often, those we care about the most can become the most common to us and bring struggles and frustrations that zap a little of our holiday cheer. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips to survive the holidays, and even enjoy them a little more. Disclaimer: This is mostly about me trying to be funny. So, it’s okay to laugh at this while hopefully learning valuable holiday-saving skills.
Hide a slice of pie. Trust me. You’re gonna want a second slice and there won’t be one because uncle Bob will have gotten to it first and he won’t have asked if anyone else wanted to split it with him or anything and you’ll get mad and feel like no one ever thinks about your wants and it’ll cause a fight even if just in your own head. So, hide a slice of pie for later.
Say grace but don’t talk about religion or politics unless you know everyone agrees on everything already. These are tense times. Remember you don’t love these people because they checked the same boxes on a ballot. You love them because you have to. You love them because they can blackmail you with video footage of the sibling dance routine you choreographed in 1982 to “fill-in-the-blank” song and because you ALL still remember the moves. You love them because they helped you sneak your veggies off your plate. You love them because they tucked you in at night and checked your closet for monsters. You love them because you share history together. Histories can be messy and have dark times but, good and bad, it is what makes us one. Don’t let that get clouded by differing opinions over healthcare and immigration. Those things are important but so is the fact that these people have seen you… fill in the blank with that funny or embarrassing thing that you’re already thinking of.
Have grace. You love these people. Or you did? Come on you still do. (Refer to the last paragraph.) And they love you even if they forgot for a minute when you took the last dinner roll. So cut them some slack. Have an extra bit of patience. Don’t get your panties in a wad over every choice they make you don’t like. Don’t look for the passive-aggressive undertones of every conversation. Choose to believe the best about them and hope that they believe the best about you. This may take getting some thicker skin but do it. Maybe they don’t deserve your grace. Sometimes you don’t deserve it either, that’s why it’s called grace. (Don’t make me pull a what would/did Jesus do card here, cuz I can and will.)
Get better expectations. Maybe you have this image of a Norman Rockwell painting that is pristine and classy and perfect. Your holiday probably won’t be that. It could come real close or it could look more like an abstract Picasso. Don’t expect perfection. If aunt Doris always comments about your singleness or lack of kids or lackluster career or how you don’t visit enough, don’t expect her to suddenly have been body-snatched. Expect her to make all the same comments. Prepare a cute smile and nod and excuse to move to the other room politely. But also don’t expect her to get in your face and make you feel horrible. She might get in your face but it’s up to you if it makes you feel horrible. After all, if you’re happy with your life then who cares what Doris thinks. And if you’re not, then say that, be honest. Give her a “you’re right Doris, I’d love to meet Mr. Right cuz Friday night binge-watching has gotten lonely. Thanks for praying for me.” Or “yeah Doris we just aren’t ready for kids yet, and we know we’ll never feel ready but right now we live in a studio apartment and live off ramen so probably not the best sitch for adding a kid or two. Hopefully next year we’ll have a bun in the oven and when we do you’ll be among the first to know. We may even name it after you.” (Ok that might be a stretch but do what you have to do.) The point is people have as much power over you as you let them. Move your expectations so they have less. Come ready to handle what might be thrown at you with love and grace and dignity.
Wear stretchy pants and comfortable shoes. I don’t think I need to explain this one. You get it. Because extra slice of pie. Please see my first point.
Embrace, reclaim and create traditions. Did you used to always play clue together? Start doing that again. Always wanted to have a backyard football game? Start one. Tired of watching everyone reenact those 1982 dance moves, how about you toss caution to the wind and join in. Play together. Laugh. Make fools of yourselves. Even if your little brother still cheats at Clue it’ll be something you consider a good memory.
Look, this has been funny. And kind of serious. But here’s the deal, your family is yours. They are your people for your whole life. Even if you don’t see them every day. Even if they get on your nerves. They are yours. (Maybe they aren’t even blood but they are who raised you, who took you in when you were alone, who stick with you now…maybe they are a family of friends or neighbors. They are still yours.) No matter what kind of family you have they aren’t perfect. You aren’t perfect. It’s called being human and we all suffer from it.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas and good luck with that extra slice of pie.
Originally Posted on TabithaCaplinger.com