How to Survive Being Home for the Holidays

By Kelli Gould

Kelli Gould
Kelli Gould

Spending a lot of time with family over the Holiday season can be so fun. It can mean movie nights in pjs, gift exchanges, delicious home cooked meals, even better leftovers, game nights, catching up with relatives by the fireplace, and so many more reasons why this really is the most wonderful time of the year. However, there is sometimes a downside to all of this warm and cozy time with family. You may walk in the door and immediately hear:

“Wow, your hair is really dark. That’s not even close to your natural color! Did your stylist mess up?”

“Still no kids? When are you going to give me grandchildren??? What do you even do with alllllll of your free time??”

“Oh dear, have you been stressed? It looks like you’re breaking out more than usual. I hope you’ve been washing your face at night before bed.”

“So glad you came home for Christmas, we NEVER see you!”

Yes. Brace yourself. By now we know to expect these kinds of comments, remarks, observations from grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins/mom/siblings. They mean well though…don’t they? Well, either way, it’s best to come prepared. So, here are a few tips on How to Survive Being Home for the Holidays.

  • Choose your battles. Grandma might be making comments about your new hair color or the latest fashion trend that you are rocking; those kind of remarks are easier to let slide. But what if she starts making comments about the career path you chose, your weight, religious affiliation, beliefs, values or morals? Those might be something to speak with her ever-so-graciously about. It doesn’t have to be a big scene either. Ask grandma to help you in the other room and then let her know you feel uncomfortable. Then redirect the conversation and talk about a more favorable topic. Tell her something new and exciting that is going on in her life, or ask her how she is doing. It’s not always easy, that’s for sure. But having another person cut you down is not okay and standing up for yourself is the right thing to do.
  • Keep the conversation light. Whichever direction the conversation goes, steer clear of two hot topics – politics and religion. You never know with these two subjects; it could be a polite, cordial, respectful conversation or it could go south really fast and end with Uncle Tom in the ER. Either way, I always go back to the old saying, “when in doubt, don’t”. Let’s stay on the safe side and leave these conversations at the door.
  • Put a time limit in place before planning your trip and communicate it to your family so they are aware of how long you will be there. For me personally, I know that 48 hours is my time limit in going to my hometown. This is just long enough to visit with friends and family, but it’s not too long. During past trips, I noticed that I started getting irritable after 48 hours and noticing that I was really needing my own time, place and space by that third day. That is when I decided to put the time limit in place. For you it may be different, maybe it’s as short as four hours, or as long as one week. Figure out how long works for you and stick with it!
  • Visit old friends. Speaking of friends and family…how fun is it to go back home and see friends that are also visiting from out of town? And old hometown friends that you have stayed connected with over the years? Try making plans ahead of time to meet up and go out. This will keep you busy, add a little more fun to the holidays and you will also have a little something more to look forward to when coming home. On the flip side, don’t feel obligated to find a time to meet up with all of your friends that may be in town or want to see you. Over-scheduling will make the trip even more stressful and you will feel pulled in every direction. Make time for those you really want to see.
  • If you start feeling bored… make plans to do something that will mix up the family time. Suggest a night out at the movies – you can still be with family and get out of the house for a bit as well. If a grocery store run is needed, volunteer to make the trip! Or get a little fresh air – grab a family member and tell them you’d love to hear what they have been up to and suggest going on a walk for a little one on one time
  • Horrible gifts. We all get them. Luckily, we are at the age and place in life where if we really need something, we can just go out and buy it for ourselves or save up for it. I don’t come home for Christmas expecting anything that’s on my wish-list to be under the tree. Any time I get a gift that I actually want, it’s a huge bonus! Otherwise, I’ll just plan to add the lovely decorative soap gift set that I just unwrapped to my Goodwill pile.

I hope we – including myself here! – keep these tips in mind as we go our separate ways this Holiday season. Go home with reasonable expectations and ready to give everyone around the table a little grace for where they are at in life. Lighten up, loosen up and have a good time!

(Featured image photo credit: Awkwardfamilyphotos.com)

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