The holidays are around the corner
Thanksgiving is knocking on our door, with Christmas just around the corner. Autumn is always a busy time for families. School and soccer start with a bang in September. I remember chauffeuring my kids to practice and games. I don’t miss standing out in the rain while they ran back and forth! Progress reports have arrived and sometimes that suggests a readjustment of activities and structure. It's all part of the autumn cycle.
The holidays offer a brief respite from this daily routine. They are a semi-colon in the middle of a long sentence. Thanksgiving and Christmas can create a moment of pause from everyday life to celebrate what is truly important—family, connection, and community. But it also can be a pain point for some families.
Sadly, I hear from so many adults these days that dread the holidays. Maybe Uncle Bill has a different political bent than his brother Joe. Bob wants to talk about the environment and Sandy starts to talk about immigration. Jill is upset about the midterm election results. Before you know it, a full-scale political volcano erupts at the dinner table! Hot lava is pouring everywhere!
While a healthy discussion about current events can be interesting and informative, these days It may not take long before it turns into something ugly. Tempers flare and everyone is talking (or shouting!) and no one is listening. Thanksgiving or Christmas becomes a reflection of our political climate rather than a time to feel connected with each other.
How can we make our holidays a tension free zone filled with love and joy?
Check your politics at the door.
Make a decision as a family to avoid political discussions during the holidays. Keep the dinner table free from talk about current events other than who is going to make it to the super bowl. If someone starts up, remind them that this holiday is going to be politics free.
Keep alcohol consumption down.
Yes, alcohol is a social lubricant, but it also loosens your tongue. Too much drink can be disinhibiting, which can result in saying something that you might later regret or reacting to something that you might otherwise let go by.
Focus on the positive.
At our Thanksgiving, we have a ritual-- each person at the table shares what they are thankful for. I love listening to what kids have to say! But it’s also a time for me to reflect on whatever blessings this year that have come my way. No matter how many challenges we’ve had this year, we always can find something to be thankful for.
It’s easy to focus on how we differ. We can be quick to judge each other in the light of our own beliefs. But if we look more closely, we can find common ground. More importantly, we can accept each other’s differences without judgment.
It’s all about love, not about like.
I love my wife with all my heart and all my soul, but I certainly don’t like everything about her! I feel that same way about my kids—I love them unconditionally, but they certainly have some characteristics I don’t like. I’m sure they would say the same thing about me. “Likes” are about taste, preferences, and temperament. They can be relatively superficial. But love is the deep connection that brings out the best of who we are and who we can be. It’s not necessary to like everything about the people you love.
Let’s all have a sweet holiday season!