• The Hopefulist

Getting through the holiday dinner

I often joke there is nothing that says spending the holidays with the family like the line at the liquor store. I joke but have you ever stopped there on Christmas Eve? The line is around wrapped around the store! It's always been a big joke about how stressful it is to spend time with family or in-laws at the holidays. Some people love spending time with their family and have no issues whatsoever. Others, love the time but still feel stress. Then there are others who feel overwhelmed at the thought of being around people who will drill them with questions and judge them and their choices. Which category do you fall into? If you have no issues than you can probably skip this episode. But if you fall in one of the other categories stay tuned.

First and foremost let's try to go in with a positive attitude. Let's hope for the best but prepare for the worst. You never know, this could be the year everything goes smoothly. But let's have a back up plan just in case.

Growing up my family was always very loud and there was usually at least one fight before we even sat down to dinner. There was yelling at people who were taking too many black olives before dinner. Why are they on the table if we can't eat them??? There was a lot of getting in the way. People yelling that others needed to move so they could get to what was ready to come out of the oven or off the stove. Then we needed to make room for the carving because we never did that at the table. Maybe a way to avoid something like this is to set a timeline for the dishes and who needs to be where at what time. I know, easier planned than done! But it's worth an attempt. Or just go in with the attitude that you aren't going to get upset. Especially knowing this is what usually happens. Just get out of the way and get to your stuff when you can.... hopefully without it burning.

Are you worried about politics coming up? If you all have the same views it can be a nice, lively conversation. Or maybe you think differently than the majority. That's okay to discuss too if it will be done in a respectful manor. But sometimes these things get heated so tread lightly.

Sometimes, and I normally don't advocate this because I feel everyone should speak their own truth but if it's going to cause a ruckus maybe just keep your views to yourself to save the peace at dinner. If you are tired of the conversation try to change the subject. Mention how good some of the dishes are that you are enjoying. Or ask someone about something they've been up to.

I actually had this situation the other day while playing pickleball. There was a passionate conversation taking place about vaccinations that didn't match up with what I believe. It wasn't a conversation I was a part of initially and I love my pickleball peeps so not only did I not want to take part in the conversation but I didn't even want to hear it. I heard enough to know I didn't agree with them but I'm there to play pickleball and have fun. So I just walked on the court and said "let's go. Time to play".

What if there is someone who has a habit of criticizing you? Go in with a plan! Have some phrases ready to go to combat it. Like if your mom feels the need to say something negative about your purple hair or your new tattoo just say it's great to see her too. Remember that you live your life for you...not for your parents. And if they don't understand this by now they likely never will. If you want to continue attending family gatherings you have to decide how you will handle such criticism. But mostly you have to vow that it won't bother you. You likely knew when you dyed your hair purple that your mother would hate it but you did it anyway. Keep that attitude. It's for you. You like it and will keep it as long as you wish.

But be prepared for something out of the blue too. Parents are great at blindsiding you with a comment you never expected. Whatever you do don't lash out. It's likely they are trying to get a rise out of you (I don't know why!) so don't give them the satisfaction. If they are saying something judgmental just tell them that you happen to love it and move on.

How's your love life? This was my issue for the longest time while I was single. I was bombarded with questions about if I were seeing anyone and why they hadn't met them yet. Have you recently gone through a divorce and you are still feeling the backlash from that? Just tell them you are doing the best you can and you'd rather not discuss it during this joyous occasion. I don't know if it will work but it's worth a shot!

Do you have family members who have a little too much to say about how your kids are behaved? Yes, this is a tough one to swallow and listen to. The old, when I was raising you, may come up at times. But it is true it's a completely different world now. And anyway, you are supposed to do things differently than when you were raised. We all hope to do a little bit better than our parents and they should want that too.

The holidays can be tough. That is for sure. But if you keep your focus on the food and the love I'm sure you can just make it through. But give yourself a little pep talk beforehand on how you hope to see things going. Visualize it and make plans to help it goes that way. Of course you don't have control over everything but you do have control over how you will react. And hey, a drink really doesn't hurt!

Have an amazing holiday dinner with your family, friends and loved ones. I hope you eat way too much and have a fun, fight free time. Gobble, gobble!

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Now go forth and eat turkey. Have a fantastic week and as always be badass. I'm always here cheering you on.

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