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                                      Here is how to  thoroughly enjoy your holiday family gatherings!

                                                                      (in spite of that difficult family member)

Yes, holidays are here, along with all those annual family events: concerts, plays, parties and meals on the big day. Can you do it? Of course you can.

But you’ll have to remember some simple Ask Granny tips for relieving stress at family gatherings. Instead of expecting your stomach to churn and your frustration levels to rise with each of Uncle Tony’s impersonations or… you fill in the blank… take a deep breath and determine to enjoy the season.

Here’s how:

Take Control

You can only control your own behavior, not that of others. But you can set the tone for a positive and enjoyable time together. You can determine which topics you’ll discuss, how much you’ll eat and drink and if the event is at your home, whom you invite and make welcome. While certain family members and the history of your particular friends and family can make for some challenging encounters, do what you can to ensure holiday get-togethers are positive. If it helps, remember that children take their cues from your behavior. If you want them to learn to be polite to others, this is a good time to practice.

Change Your Expectations

The holidays are often painted with such picture-perfect brushes, that we become disappointed when anything at all goes wrong. If the food isn’t perfect, the decorations aren’t up to Martha Steward standards, if a certain guest is rude or unpleasant, we tend to think the entire holiday is ruined. Not so. All of those things can be overlooked for the sake of a happy gathering.

Be proactive in planning some activities to keep everyone engaged and busy. Playing group games, watching a favorite movie or doing an art project can divert conversations that may run amuck if left unchecked.

Avoid Hot Topics

More than ever it’s necessary to avoid the inflammatory reactions people have when discussing things like politics and religion. Topics which should be fair game can end up with people in near fisticuffs. For real. Don’t allow that to happen. If necessary set some ground rules for your guests. Hopefully if you are careful not to lead conversations in those directions or bring up something neutral and safe, you’ll avoid the unpleasant arguments that can flare when left unchecked.

Don’t Expect Miracles: Be Content

Take joy in gathering your friends and family together around a festive meal, carol sing, present exchange or whatever your family enjoys. Determine to see the best in everyone and enjoy the time together. Holidays aren’t the time to change anyone—don’t decide to have an important discussion with your children about disciplining the grandkids. Don’t take this opportunity to tell Aunt Clara you’ve never liked her hairstyle. Holidays are times to enjoy and be blessed with what we have.

Loving others is all about caring and blessing in spite of the flaws. None of us is perfect. Choose to enjoy your family gatherings this holiday season.