Or as we like to call it, Psych 101.
Just in case your family is more like “The Addams Family” and less like “Leave it to Beaver,” we thought it might help to 1) know that you are not alone, and 2) create a quick guide to get you through the next couple of days … smiling.
Count Your Blessings
It is Thanksgiving after all. Be thankful for the good relationships in your family. Be thankful for roast turkey, pumpkin pie and Chardonnay! Studies show that an attitude of gratitude increases endorphin levels, which boost overall happiness.
It’s true … you can’t choose your family, but they are yours, the good, the bad and the ugly. If some family members are more difficult than others, the easiest route to more peaceful interactions is to change your reaction. This approach (instead of trying to change Uncle Bob, Aunt Zelda and Cousin Pippa) actually puts you in the power position and in control of your emotions. So when Zelda asks why you aren’t married yet, smile and tell her because you’re having too much fun. When Bob tells that crass joke for the millionth time, walk away.
Ohm … My Goodness
And then remember your center. When you trip over your nephew’s Razor scooter for the umpteenth time and your mother-in-law asks you about your haircut with that look, you know it’s time for some alone time. Sneak off to your bedroom, the car, or even the bathroom (any room with a door that locks will do!) and take five minutes to breathe, meditate and reflect on how much you love these people. Really, you do!
Get Up & Go
Who says houseguests have to stay in the house? Check your local paper and city websites for fun things to do in your area. Pick up a guide to your city and nudge out-of-towners to do all those “touristy” things you never get around to doing. Also, lots of blockbuster movies open on Thanksgiving, so after dinner send your group on a movie mission, giving you time alone to reflect on the day’s events with a glass of wine. If you are visiting from out of town, research fun outings for you and your family to give your hosts a break.
Book It, Dano!
If you are traveling to visit relatives, instead of staying with family, book a room at a hotel. This gives you a place to retreat to if situations flare up and it limits your time at your relatives’ home. Priceline and hotels.com are just a couple of websites that offer budget-friendly options for hotels across the country.
You can do it! Just keep a sense of humor, take care of yourself and think of this as a practice run as there are only 26 days until Hanukkah and 31 days until Christmas.