The holidays are here, and for many people this is the best time of the year. You get together with friends and family, eat home cooked food, enjoy some cocktails and watch plenty of football.
But for many people, this time of the year can be a mini nightmare if you have one of those dysfunctional families, and the Wall Street Journal has a funny and frankly useful guide to surviving these get togethers. They call it “Dysfunctional Family Bingo” and it’s worth a read. Here are some examples:
Or consider this move from my mom’s playbook. Just before Thanksgiving this year, she called each one of her three daughters, who are nothing if not competitive, and announced that she would be awarding a “Miss Congeniality” prize at the end of the weekend.
Who won? Dad. “It wasn’t easy for him, but he held it together,” Mom says. Dad’s response: “Having everyone get along and be together was important to your mother. It was my job to stay out of the way.”
Cliff Mugnier, a 68-year-old surveyor and cartographer in Baton Rouge, La., minimizes conflict among his seven adult children by refusing to tell everyone in advance who else is coming to dinner. Rebecca Raibley, 61, a senior partner at a Boston investment relations firm, always invites a friend or two, so family members feel pressure to behave.
Greg Jensen, a 65-year-old retired human resources manager from Dallas with three sisters and a brother, visits just one sibling at a time. This year, he is meeting a sister in New Orleans for a five-day Christmas break. “I love all my siblings one at a time, but I just can’t take them all at once,” he says.
All of these are good ideas, but we have some ideas as well. First, if you’re traveling for the holidays and staying with family, make sure to plan some activities that take you out of the house. Go places. See other people. Just don’t spend all your time surrounded by people that will drive you nuts.
Also, plan on some time killers. Bring your iPad so you can catch up on movies, play games, use online time-killers like PartyBingo.com, or read some e-books. Or, make sure you have a deck of cards or even a chess board to kill time.
We also like the divide and conquer strategy mentioned above. Think about that when you’re planning activities. Take your mom to the mall, and your dad to a sports bar. Think about what works well on smaller groups and you’ll save yourself a ton of aggravation.
And finally, buy some good wine, craft beer or smooth Scotch. Anything that will dull the pain!