by Erika Townsend
Along with holiday cheer, usually come some holiday frustrations. We are in constant search of the perfect gifts for loved ones. We fight for spaces in parking lots at the local malls. We run out of wrapping paper with two gifts left under the tree that have to be concealed before our spouse gets home. I am here to help with one of the nagging holiday issues, visiting with the in-laws, no pun intended.
Like the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is more valuable than a pound of cure.” It is important that you sit down and discuss with your spouse or mate what makes the holidays special for you. Maybe it is when your family distributes gifts or when everyone sits down for the family dinner. Together, decide what you can’t do without, and make compromises where you can. Come up with a detailed plan and let your family know well in advance so that there are no hurt feelings when the holidays roll around. If you are not able to do it all in one day, maybe you can coordinate an additional day to celebrate. The holidays are all about being with family, not the date we get together.
Once the holiday finally arrives, be optimistic. Count your blessings, even if one is just that you only have a few more hours with your in-laws. Find reasons to be thankful. Sometimes our parents or our spouse’s parents can be critical of everything from what time your child goes to bed, to how you cook Christmas dinner. It is important to remember that it is hard for parents to accept that their children are adults. Their being critical of you may be their way of still being good parents.
Always try your hardest to stay positive. You can try things like taking a walk, offering help with the dishes, or changing the subject. If someone is making you or another immediate family member uncomfortable or feel in danger in any way, make sure that you speak up. You do not have to be rude, but you shouldn’t feel violated. Before gathering, you and your mate can come up with signals when it is time to go or when you need a break from a certain relative. Always honor your spouse and try to alleviate any problems before they occur. Also try to avoid taking sides in family drama that does not involve you. Remember, you see your spouse or loved one everyday and certain relatives only on holidays. You do not want to carry stress home along with the presents.
Finally, take time to spend alone with your partner during the holidays. It is great to get together with family, but it can become overwhelming. Make sure you have plans to slip away if only for an hour to regroup. There is nothing like cherishing the best gift your in-laws have ever given you: one another.