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How to Survive and Thrive at Your Holiday Family Gatherings

Holiday family gatheringHoliday family gatherings can be stressful. But, they can also be a special time of time of warmth and togetherness.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your holiday family get-togethers this year.

Keep it Real
Don’t compare your family’s holiday to a picture of what you think the holidays should be like. That’s not real for anyone. But, your family members are very real. And best of all, they’re yours! So, embrace them — quirks and all. 

Be Yourself
The more you can be yourself with your family, the closer you’ll feel to them. Some families make this easier than others. If you’re family isn’t particularly accepting, keep things on a more surface level. It’s a way to protect yourself and still be respectful.

Be Prepared for Questions
If you’ll be seeing  extended family or other people you don’t regularly see, be prepared for questions about your work and personal life. Some people are genuinely interested. Others are just making small talk. Either way, it’s best to decide in advance how much you’re comfortable sharing. And if you get caught off-guard, change the subject and ask them a question. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. So chances are by the time they’re done answering, they’ll have forgotten what they asked you.

Share Family Stories, But Don’t Throw Anyone Under the Bus
It can be fun to reminisce about past holidays and fun times together. But, when someone brings a new boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s easy to join forces against them and reveal all their embarrassing secrets. Remember to keep it good-natured and know where to draw the line. Because, you could be the one on the hot seat next year!    

Enjoy Your Family Traditions
Traditions bring back memories from the past and create new memories. Whether it’s a favorite  holiday dish, a special church service, or when you open presents,  embrace the nostalgia of your family’s holiday traditions. And if there are new people or new ideas, you may even consider creating some new traditions.

Appreciate Your Family
You may not have as much in common with your family as you do with your friends who really “get you.” But in a few years, you might have a whole new set of friends. But, you’ll still be sharing the holidays and other important occasions with your family. Appreciate the fact that you’re all in this for the long haul and enjoy your family exactly as they are.

Take Action: Share a Favorite Holiday Tradition or Story
(And I do wish you a Very Happy Holiday and New Year!)

Vonda (“Vondie”) Lozano, Ph.D., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Hypnotherapist. She’s been featured in Cosmopolitan, the Wall Street Journal and on KABC Talk Radio. Vondie offers hypnosis, counseling, and workshops in Ventura. Nearby cities include Camarillo, Ojai and Oxnard.

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