Full Griswold…or “How to Not Let the Holidays Ruin Your Relationship.”

On a recent episode of our podcast “Break Bottles, Not Hearts” http://www.anchor.fm/desiree-simone1, we talked about the stress the holidays bring not only on ourselves but our relationships. Whether it’s your parents, siblings, work colleagues or your significant other, this time of year has a tendency to make us go “Full Griswold.”

Much like the lovable dad, Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” we have the greatest of intentions when it comes to making a memorable holiday for the ones we love. But outside forces, sometimes far from our own control, conspire against us. So what do you do when this happens, and how can you prevent it from ruining this magical time of year?

  • Back away from the Turkey!: Or as I like to call it “A Reset”. One of the first stress factors during the holidays is the additional people in your personal space. Many of us do not have the luxury of a large home, so you are literally on top of each other. No wonder you want to punch your drunk cousin in the face. When this happens, back away. Simply remove yourself from the space. Take a walk, go for a drive, visit your local bar. Remove yourself for a time from the situation and try to remember, they won’t be there forever.
  • Taboo or Not Taboo: There are usually a few things that every family knows you can’t just bring up in conversation. From the cousin who always brings his “friend” to the political topic of the day, you may find some comfort in enforcing a Taboo Rule. Meaning, these are what we will not discuss in order for us all to enjoy a good meal. And if some people have a hard time obeying this rule, simply ignore them. Or in my case, be incredibly sarcastic. It’ll really pisses them off.
  • Keep it Small: Though you love your family and all 20 cousins, sometimes you don’t need to see them all. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that a small gathering can be just as much fun, and less stress, than a big one. So even though borders are opening, your home can remain somewhat close. Keep your entertaining minimal to keep your fun at a maximum.
  • Just Say No: Ok, I will admit, this is a hard one for me. But when the time and the occasion call for it, “No” is a perfectly good response. “Can we bring the pasta salad?” No Shelia, you add raisins to it! “Will it be ok if we come two days earlier?” How about, No! You have 48 hours in my home and that includes entering and exiting. “Would you mind if…” No Karen! To whatever you are going to ask me. Sometimes in the interest of family and sanity, you have to put your foot down and say “No”. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you someone who wants to protect their piece.
  • Let the Classics remain the Classics: I was dating a guy a few years ago and I had this wonderful idea of making the most perfect Christmas for his family and mine. I had this insane notion because I grew up with such amazing memories around the holidays. But it wasn’t until I became an adult in a pseduo-healthy relationship, did I realize that those memories were the work of holiday geniuses far stronger than me. Women who had years of “Better Homes and Garden” conditioning that I could never live up to, who cleverly hid their stress under petticoats and Cognac. In other words, the age old idea of the “Picture Perfect Christmas” is just that…old. Let it die along with the pressures of feeling like you have to live up to your mother, his mother or your grandmothers expectations. It’s great to pass on those traditions that bring nostalgia, but I’m here to tell you that anxiety, shouldn’t be one of them.

At the end of the day, may your days be merry and bright. And may all your holidays end with wine!

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