Five Traps to Avoid During Holiday Family Get-Togethers
We love our families, but watch out for toxic reactions.
The holidays are a wild and wonderful time of year. Joyful, full of community, and sometimes a bit unhinged. We’re often more social (sometimes there’s even too much pressure to be social) as the year draws to a close, we look back on the last year, and reflect on our hopes and dreams for the future, and for the next year in particular. Especially in times of political turmoil and uncertainty, New Year’s brings up a lot. From an evolutionary perspective, winter is a time of hibernation (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere). We may slow down, eat more, sleep more, and generally want to hole up somewhere warm and ride it out. After all, in the past, winter was a time of potential disaster if we ran out of food or shelter failed to provide heat, leading to famine, death and disease. Winter makes us band together for survival, enhancing the need to watch out for one another. Maybe that’s why people are friendlier during the holidays, and why these days are holy days in the first place, the end of the year having become sacred over the evolution of humankind.
Such musings aside, we gather together over the holidays with family and friends, and share community and cheer, sustenance both corporeal and intangible. Some of us shy away from family, others wish they were with their families but cannot be, some of us have uncomplicated family experiences, and others ambivalently meet up with their families under tense circumstances. We can do a lot to manage these situations for greater mutual satisfaction (or self-protection, if that is all that’s possible or wanted) by limiting exposure, setting boundaries and having a plan B if things aren’t going well, and by learning to cope more effectively when under strain. We have to decide whether to address family issues, and really is a holiday gathering always the best time? After a bit too much egg-nog, spirits are high and people tend to say more than they might otherwise, complicating the situation.
When there is a level of family dysfunction and a history of poor coping, watch out for the following avoidable traps, and use to your advantage your ability to draw strength from uncertainty:
- Fishing: Don’t take the bait…