Everyone has a crazy family. If you can’t find someone in your family that is crazy – a sister, brother, in-law, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or child – then it’s probably you.
How to Survive Family Gatherings
Many are still reeling from holiday celebrations spent with family. For some of us it’s been a whole year since the entire family has been together, or, if you are on a rotating schedule, two to three years may have passed. You may not know each other as well as you’d like to, know which presents the kids wanted, or may even dread the idea of even showing up.
This year my family didn’t get together for the Christmas holiday. Instead, we are planning to gather this week and my parents, siblings, their spouses, and all of the nieces and nephews will be joining us. We are going to cover all of the holidays, with Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas ham, and enough winter activities to keep everyone busy. (I’m still really hoping for snow!)
As I’ve looked forward to that, I’ve been listening to others recount their own holiday gatherings. The theme is pretty much the same with “I had a great time, but so and so did/did not…” and typically continues on to discussions of siblings, their spouses, in-laws with varying traditions, parenting squabbles, and life choice disagreements.
Insecurity: Theirs and Ours
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve personally had blow-ups with family members, and there are plenty of people out there making poor life choices. I do know, however, that a holiday family gathering is generally not the time to have those major discussions. Additionally, I would be willing to bet that, if we really thought about it, the problems we have getting together with family during the holidays are, more often than not, linked to our own feelings of insecurity.
That’s right, I said it. Insecurity.
You are getting insecure just reading this, aren’t you? Trust me, it’s even harder to write it because, who wants to admit that they could be the problem?
So what is the root of all of those insecurities?
Perhaps we don’t think our life matches up to what our siblings’ lives look like from the outside. Maybe our spouse is awkward around our family or doesn’t ever say/do what we want him or her to do (not that it’s our responsibility, right?). Or maybe we don’t have the money to participate in the gathering to start with – to travel, contribute food, bring presents, or take part in the scheduled activities. Maybe someone doesn’t agree with our parenting choices, or we feel like we receive a lot of unwanted advice.
Trust me, we’ve all been there.
What if we were simply to admit our insecurities and be honest with our families? I’m not talking about being “honest” regarding your opinions of everyone else, quite the opposite actually. I’m talking about taking ownership of our own insecurities and being honest about ourselves, loving each other along the way.
Isn’t that the idea of family – to love one another?
It’s not a “me versus you” contest, that’s not what family should be. Families are meant to be the place where we are loved unconditionally, despite our flaws, insecurities, and weaknesses.
So rather than saving face and pretending all is well, how about allowing others to see that our Instagram profiles only show half of the story, that we each have issues as well, with spouses, kids, jobs, and money.
What if we were also to look at each family member and recognize that if we have apprehensive feelings about getting together, then they likely do too?
As we look forward to 2018 and the family gatherings we will have this year, instead of dreading them, let’s consider what it would look like to simply be honest (sticking to honesty about ourselves) and cut each other some slack. Let’s save our disagreements and insights into each other’s lives for times when we are together one on one, forging friendships rather than beating each other up with a group mentality.
After all, family gatherings and holidays are stressful times – let’s not let the stress and words said under pressure destroy what family is really meant to be.
Have a wonderful week!